Mikhail Grigorenko’s second act in North America wound up being even shorter than his first. The 27-year-old has decided to take a pass at testing unrestricted free agency later this month and is instead heading back home as CSKA Moscow announced that they’ve signed Grigorenko to a three-year contract.
Grigorenko spent the three seasons before 2020-21 with CSKA before deciding to give the NHL another try after he struggled considerably with Buffalo and Colorado in his first opportunity. That brought him to Columbus, a team that had some vacancies down the middle to fill; there was definitely a fit on paper.
That fit didn’t translate to on-ice success, however. He tallied just four goals and eight assists in 32 games with the Blue Jackets this season while clearing waivers back in mid-March. In the end, he wound up being just a role player and accordingly, it seemed unlikely that he’d be able to come close to the $1.2MM he made this season. Had he stuck around, he’d have been looking at something closer to the minimum.
With that in mind, a trip back to CSKA where he has had some success certainly makes sense. But while he’ll only be 30 when this contract is up, it’s quite unlikely that Grigorenko will attempt a third tour of duty in the NHL. Assuming this is indeed the end of his playing days in North America, he leaves with 26 goals and 50 assists in 249 games over parts of six seasons. That’s not the type of return Buffalo was expecting when they made Grigorenko the 12th-overall pick in 2012.