New York Rangers Free Agent Target: Mikhail Grigorenko

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 17: Mikhail Grigorenko
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 17: Mikhail Grigorenko /

The New York Rangers and their front office have made quite a few moves this summer. They can look even smarter than they already do if they sign one specific free agent center to play in the bottom six.

The New York Rangers have restructured the defense for the most part, which was their biggest flaw last season. However, in the process, they have depleted their roster down the middle. The Rangers lost Oscar Lindberg in the expansion draft and traded Derek Stepan to the Arizona Coyotes. The Rangers need to focus now on improving at the center position.

One name that has been coming to mind at the center position is Mikhail Grigorenko. This is the perfect opportunity for the Rangers to pick up on a low risk, high reward type of player. Some people tend to believe that Grigorenko should’ve broken out already if he was meant to become something more than a 1st round bust.

Grigorenko has the potential to have a breakout season and there are a few reasons why the Rangers should take a chance on the young Russian centerman.

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Still Time To Develop:

Mikhail Grigorenko just turned 23-years-old on May 16th and is still growing and developing. Before being drafted, Grigorenko played for the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. In his first season with the Remparts, Grigorenko produced 40 goals and 45 assists in 59 games as a 16-year-old.

After his standout season in the QMJHL, the Buffalo Sabres drafted Grigorenko with the 12th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.  Most 1st round picks are given a chance to develop more in other leagues. However, this wasn’t the case for Grigorenko as he made the Sabres roster as an 18-year-old rookie.

Grigorenko was misused during this time with the Buffalo Sabres. He didn’t get the chance to properly develop his game and he was thrown into the figurative fire in Buffalo. He bounced between the Sabres, the Rochester Americans, and the Quebec Remparts during his contract with the Sabres.

Grigorenko was traded to the Colorado Avalanche in 2015 and was given a fresh start. He hasn’t shown much in his two years with a rebuilding Avalanche team and is now an unrestricted free agent.

Grigorenko has been in the NHL for five seasons now and he just turned 23-years-old. Grigorenko hasn’t played on a dynamic team since he was drafted. A change of scenery to a playoff contending team could do wonders for him. He hasn’t reached his full potential yet and he can so with a team with the right pieces by his side.

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Fellow Russians:

Since entering the NHL as an 18-year-old, Grigorenko never really had a Russian mentor or friend on his teams. The Rangers will have two other young Russians, Pavel Buchnevich and Alexei Bereglazov as potential players in the lineup. It also helps that Chris Kreider speaks fluent Russian.

He will be allowed to build bonds with these other young Russians that are going through the same experience as he is. Grigorenko has the potential to break out in the NHL, he just needs a fresh start.

A Fresh Start & Perfect Fit:

All Mikhail Grigorenko needs is a fresh start. He hasn’t performed up to par since being drafted but the blame shouldn’t land all on him. The Buffalo Sabres organization didn’t allow Grigorenko to develop properly. They rushed him right into the NHL and it didn’t turn out as expected.

As a 23-year-old Russian player, Grigorenko needs to have someone that he can talk to and hang out with. Having Buchnevich and Bereglazov on the same team and traveling together wouldn’t just help Grigorenko but all three of them.

With the way Grigorenko hasn’t lived up to his potential, his value has dropped and could be a steal for the Rangers depending on the size of the contract. The Rangers need to figure out their roster down the middle and Grigorenko could be one of the answers. He should come at an affordable price and could fit in well on the bottom six.

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Grigorenko will be a low risk, high reward type of player this season if given the right opportunity. The Rangers and Grigorenko are the perfect match for each other this summer. Only time will tell if these two end up coming together before the start of next season.