Evgeni Grachev made his OHL regular season debut last night, picking up an assist and finishing a +2, as the Brampton Battalion defeated the Owen Sound Attack by the score of 3-2. Grachev played left wing on a line with center Matt Duchene and right wing Jason Dale, each of whom scored for the Battalion. After the game, the 18-year old Ranger prospect received high praise from both his coach Stan Butler and linemate Duchene:
â€œI was really happy with that line,â€ said Butler. â€œIt gave us a top line, which I think we had been lacking through the first three games. Grachev was good tonight. We knew when we drafted him that weâ€™d be getting an impact player. I donâ€™t know if there will be many import players in the league better than him this season. What I like about him is heâ€™s a complete player. Heâ€™s good at both ends of the rink.â€
Said Duchene: â€œHeâ€™s unbelievable offensively. I think we read each other very well. We always know what the other guy is going to do. Itâ€™s key to have a linemate with that kind of chemistry. Iâ€™m sure heâ€™s tired from being away at camp, but he had a big night tonight.â€
As reported Wednesday, Grachev’s return to the Battlion was delayed while the team awaited his release through the International Ice Hockey Federation — a process which was reportedly being held up by the Russian Hockey Federation. While his presence on the ice last night would seem to suggest the IIHF granted him that release, it appears the KHL will continue to challenge the contract he signed with the Rangers in September.
In an interview published in Soviet Sport on Friday following a meeting between NHL Vice President Bill Daily, NHLPA boss Paul Kelly, and KHL President Alexander Medvedev, Medvedev made it known that Grachev has been added to the list of players whose NHL contracts the KHL alleges were signed in violation of the law.
“We are ready at any time to sign the draft agreement which defines the principles and policies of respecting one another’s contracts,” Medvedev said. “Provided that a solution is reached not only in the situation with Alexander Radulov, but also now with four Russian players — Evgeni Grachev has been added to the list of those who left for the NHL in violation of the law.”
The three original players Medvedev wants included in the proposed arbitration hearings regarding the Radulov situation were Maxim Mayorov, Viatcheslav Voynov, and Andrei Loktionov. Like Grachev, Voynov and Loktionov are 2008 NHL draft picks. Both signed NHL deals with the Los Angeles Kings on August 27th. Mayorov was the Blue Jackets’ 4th round pick in 2007 and signed an entry-level deal with Columbus two days later.
All three, plus Columbus’ Nikita Filatov, have experienced delays similar to those encountered by Grachev in gaining permission through the IIHF to join their junior teams because of the Russian Federation’s foot-dragging In fact, unlike Grachev, Loktionov and Voynov, Filatov and Mayorov still have not yet received clearance to join their teams in Sudbury and Brandon, respectively. The Columbus dispatch reports that unless releases are obtained for the two youngsters by Wednesday, the day NHL rosters must be completed, the Blue Jackets will lose the option of sending them to their junior teams, and instead have to assign them to their AHL affiliate in Syracuse.
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