Columbus Blue Jackets Sign Mikhail Grigorenko
Fantasy Impact: The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed 25-year-old forward Mikhail Grigorenko to a one-year contract worth $1.2 million.
In a low-risk deal (just the one year), the Jackets get to see a formerly highly-touted prospect (a former 12th overall pick but at one point he had been ranked No.2 for that 2012 draft) and how much he has improved since heading to the KHL three years ago. Grigorenko is just now entering his prime, turning 26 next month. If you write him off for his prior NHL work that would probably be a mistake. Expectations were high and he was rushed into the NHL about two years too soon. He was still only 22 when he played his last game for Colorado – an age where half the prospects are still in the AHL or playing in Europe!
On the other hand it would also be a mistake to rate him based on his gaudy KHL numbers. After one season of posting 23 points in 45 contests (for CSKA Moscow), his numbers spiked upwards as he garnered 93 points in his next 102 games. That was good for 10th and 17th in KHL scoring the last two seasons. But much of his is due to his tremendous chemistry with superstar teammate Kirill Kaprizov, who will be in a Minnesota uniform in the fall. Kaprizov and Grigorenko worked well together, and are friends off the ice so I’m a little surprised Grigorenko didn’t also sign with the Wild as was rumored. Instead, Grigorenko made a wise decision and elected to sign with a team that had room for him. A team in desperate need of offensive forwards and thus would put him in the best position to thrive.
The signing gives the Blue Jackets flexibility up front, as Grigorenko can play both center and right wing. It allows Columbus to move Alexander Wennberg and Nick Foligno out of the top six. Conceivably, they would have a top six that looks something like this:
…with Emil Bemstrom, Liam Foudy and Wennberg as other top-six options or as a very nice third line. Grigorenko’s success will depend on his ability to mesh with Bjorkstrand. If he does, then he’s an instant star who enjoys another 10 years in the NHL. If he doesn’t, then he’s a 25-point player who may not be back for 2021-22. Because clicking with Atkinson won’t be enough to push him over the top – it needs to be a top guy like Bjorkstrand (the only true star forward this team has).
Therein lies the risk for the fantasy owner. If John Tortorella decides to not really try Grigorenko on a line with Bjorkstrand at all, you’re already sunk. But I suspect he does. It may falter in training camp, and perhaps fizzle again when tried at the 10-game mark. But the third try, say 25 games in? My hunch is that if Grigorenko gets more than one chance on a line with Bjorkstrand, he can pop almost as much as he did with Kaprizov. The KHL is a different league than the NHL, but Grigorenko still carries a bit of weight here from being a former Top 12 draft pick and I think he’ll get a fair shake.
Fantasy Players this helps, in order:
Fantasy Players this hurts, in order:
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