UPDATE 11:00pm: The NHL has rejected the Grigorenko contract because the filing window for deals starting next season has not opened yet. Though teams are allowed to sign previously drafted prospects or undrafted players that have never played in the NHL, they are not allowed to sign a player like Grigorenko until the normal free agent period opens.
The Blue Jackets have issued a statement:
Earlier today, the Columbus Blue Jackets announced the signing of forward Mikhail Grigorenko to a one-year contract for the 2020-21 National Hockey League season. The contract subsequently has been rejected by the NHL Central Registry due to a misunderstanding with regards to the filing window. We have been in contact with the league and Dan Milstein, Grigorenko’s agent, and the contract will be filed on July 1.
9:54am: The NHL is nothing if not a second-chance league. Mikhail Grigorenko will get another opportunity to show what he can do in North America after signing a one-year contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets for the 2020-21 season. Grigorenko has played the last three seasons in the KHL with CSKA Moscow. The contract carries a salary of $1.2MM according to Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic, who also reports that the young forward was offered twice as much to remain in Russia but turned it down.
Grigorenko, 25, last played in the NHL during the 2016-17 season with the Colorado Avalanche, scoring 10 goals and 23 points. Though that double-digit goal total was the best output of his career, it still wasn’t anywhere near what was expected of him when he was selected 12th overall in 2012. That pick was made by the Buffalo Sabres, who had seen a dominant forward put up 40 goals and 85 points as a rookie for the Quebec Remparts in the QMJHL. Though his first crack at the NHL didn’t go according to plan, Grigorenko has developed even further in Russia and has been one of the league’s most dangerous offensive players in the last two seasons. He also represented Russia and won a gold medal at the 2018 Olympics and took home a Gagarin Cup in 2019 while leading all players in KHL playoff scoring.
It’s all of those exceptional performances that have earned him another chance in the NHL, and he’ll head to a Blue Jackets team that will likely look different again next season. Columbus already traded away Sonny Milano at the deadline, and now has a tough decision to make on Josh Anderson in the offseason. Grigorenko gives them a cheap option that can potentially play in the top-six, though he’ll have to prove his production will carry across the ocean.
Even though he is only currently 25, Grigorenko will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the deal.