With all of the news over the last few months, it may have been easy to forget that the Columbus Blue Jackets tried and failed to sign a former top prospect back in April. Mikhail Grigorenko signed a one-year contract with the team, but thanks to the filing window closing the deal was rejected by the league. According to his agent Dan Milstein of Gold Star Hockey, Grigorenko has now officially signed that one-year deal. The contract is for the 2020-21 season and will be worth the original $1.2MM according to Chris Johnston of Sportsnet.
Originally selected 12th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in 2012, Grigorenko was supposed to be a do-it-all power forward in the NHL. After dominating the QMJHL as a rookie he quickly made his NHL debut with the Sabres before eventually finding his way back to junior. By the end of the 2014-15 season, however, he had just 14 points in 68 NHL games and was included in a deal that saw him shipped to the Colorado Avalanche. Two relatively unproductive seasons later, Grigorenko was heading back to Russia to join CSKA Moscow where he has played the last three years.
Those years in the KHL have been good to Grigorenko, who has tallied 115 points in 147 regular season games. Even better perhaps was his performance in the 2019 playoffs, scoring 13 goals and 21 points in 20 games en route to a Gagarin Cup championship. He was also part of the Russian Olympic team (the Olympic Athletes from Russia) who took home gold in 2018.
What’s so notable about these accomplishments for Grigorenko, is that even though he has played parts of five seasons in the NHL and three in the KHL, he only turned 26 a few months ago. It’s easy to wonder whether his game has progressed to the point where he can be a positive impact player in the NHL, and for just $1.2MM the Blue Jackets intend to find out.