Rangers refuse to release Grachev for World Junior Championship
Wednesday December 02nd 2009, 7:55 am
Photo: FHR

Photo: FHR

According to the Russian Hockey Federation web site, the New York Rangers have refused to release 2008 third round draft pick Evgeny Grachev for this winter’s World Junior Championship tournament.  The tournament opens in Saskatoon and Regina, Saskatchewan on December 26th.

The Russians are appealing the decision through the IIHF and have included the 19-year old forward on their preliminary roster for the tournament, which was released today. The full roster is translated below.

If the Rangers’ uphold their original decision, they’ll be making a mistake. Ostensibly, the team is keeping Grachev out of the tournament with the expectation that he’ll play in New York during the time he’d be representing his country in Saskatchewan. But Grachev has yet to find his groove in the AHL — nevermind the NHL — and his play in Hartford has actually dropped off of late. He has just two points in his last nine games and his minus-2 is worst among the team’s forwards.

Two years ago, then 19-year old rookie Artem Anisimov’s play suffered a similar sag in late November and early December. Anisimov was allowed to represent his country at the World Junior Championship that year, and came home with a silver medal and a renewed sense of confidence that was immediately evident in his play, if not instantly obvious on the scoresheet.

Since the lockout the Rangers organization has shown tremendous patience with its prospects, allowing them to grow and mature without undue pressure and expectations. With few exceptions, players have been required to dominate at their prior level of play before moving up to the next one. That model seems to have been abandoned this year. Grachev’s play in Hartford has been far from dominant, and there are players there who are performing better right now and are more deserving of the opportunity in New York — should it even arise.

Grachev is a tremendously talented player with an extremely bright future. Holding him out of a highly competitive international tournament in order to rush him to the NHL before he’s ready could have serious negative consequences. If you doubt that, look no further than Nikita Filatov and Victor Tikhonov for examples of what can happen when a promising young Russian is rushed to the NHL before his game has fully developed.

Preliminary Russian Roster for the 2010 World Junior Championship

Igor Bobkov — 1991 –   Metallurg Magnitogorsk
Alexander Zalivin — 1990 — Dynamo Moscow
Ramis Sadikov — 1991 — Erie Otters OHL
Alexei Trifonov — 1990 — Lada

Anton Klementiev — 1990 — New York Islanders
Dmitry Orlov — 1991 — Metallurg Novokuznets
Maxim Chudinov — 1990 — Severstal
Dmitry Kostromitin — 1990 — Rouyn-Noranda Huskies
Nikita Zaitsev — 1991 — Sibir
Nikita Pivtsakin — 1991 — Avangard
Konstantin Plaksin — 1990 — Traktor
Alexander Tarasov — 1990 — HK MVD
Ildar Isangulov — 1992 — Salvat Yulaev
Kirill Yurev — 1991 — Lada
Vyacheslav Voynov — 1990 — Manchester Monarchs
Dmitry Kulikov — 1990 — Florida Panthers

Nikita Filatov — 1990 — CSKA
Alexander Burmistrov — 1991 — Barrie Colts OHL
Vladimir Tarasenko — 1991 — Sibir
Pavel Dedunov — 1990 — Amur
Ivan Telegin — 1992 — Saginaw Spirit OHL
Maxim Kitsin — 1991 — Metallurg Novokuznets
Maxim Trunev — 1990 — Severstal
Sergei Plotnikov — 1990 — Amur
Evgeny Kyznetsov — 1992 — Traktor
Evgeny Timkin — 1990 — Avangard
Vyacheslav Kulemin — 1990 — CSKA
Egor Dugin — 1990 — Traktor
Kirill Petrov — 1990 — AK Bars
Magomed Gimbatov — 1990 — SKA
Petr Khokhryakov — 1990 — Neftekhimik
Dmitry Kygrishev — 1990 — Quebec Remparts
Evgeny Grachev — 1990 — Hartford Wolf Pack

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Filed under: Evgeni Grachev

2 Comments so far
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    During Rangers training camp and exhibition games, Grachev clearly out-played 4-5 players who inexplicably made the team instead of him. Every player differs on how they react to not making a team that they have earned a spot on. In Grachev’s case any lack of confidence in his game at Hartford may simply be a reflection of his frustration at having played well in September and not have been kept in NY for a trial period. His evident skills are desperately needed in NY where at least 5 of the regularly playing forwards are unfortunately skating “corpses” when it comes to creativity, skill and passion in the offensive zone. The lack of production mandates trying Grachev for a 5-10 span to see if his size, shot and passing skill makes a noticeable difference. If not at least he’ll gain from 8-10 minutes in NY assuming he plays well.

    Comment by akayama49 12.03.09 @ 3:08 am


    while I agree with your assesment of the situation with the Rangers – I disagree with your argument to bring up Grachev. If you remember Artem Anisimov was donwright dominant during pre-season, however it didn’t translate to the same when they started to play “for real”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not compaining about AA’s current play as a rookie, however it’s far from what we saw in the pre-season. The same is with Grachev, he is being given an opportunity to succeed in AHL. However it’s a transition from playing against teenagers in the juniors who are generally smaller than Grachev and can be easily dominated physically, compared to playing against much more experienced and physically developed men in AHL in each game. Bring up slumping Grachev to the NHL just doesn’t make any sense to me.
    If Grachev was successful in AHL I’d understand the Rangers management position not to let him go, however based on the current circumstances I agree with Laurie – playing on Russia national team could boost Grachev confidence and help him get over his slump and improve his play with the Pack.

    Comment by Kovazub94 12.03.09 @ 9:55 am

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