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Today the Avalanche locked up recent acquisition Mikhail Grigorenko on a 1-year, $675,000 contract. The young Russian remains a restricted free agent at the end of this exceptionally cap-friendly deal. Grigorenko, who was a restricted free agent, was acquired from Buffalo on June 26 along with defenseman Nikita Zadorov, forward J.T. Compher and the 31st-overall pick at this year’s NHL draft in exchange for Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn.
Grigorenko at this price is a low-risk, high-potential signing and the contract should be taken as a positive sign by fans. Though he’s only played in 68 career NHL games, notching 14 points (6g/8a), Grigorenko is considered a talented player who may have simply not been the best fit on the Sabres’ roster. The move shows Grigorenko is serious about making a push for the NHL, considering that he likely could have doubled his salary or more by signing in the KHL.
A native of Khabarovsk, Russia, Grigorenko won medals for his country at the 2012 (silver), 2013 (bronze) and 2014 (bronze) IIHF World Junior Championships. Prior to turning pro, Grigorenko played parts of three seasons of junior hockey for the Quebec Remparts (QMJHL), playing under none other than current Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy. In his first season with Quebec in 2011-12, Grigorenko was named to the QMJHL First All-Star Team, QMJHL All-Rookie Team and named the Canadian Hockey League Rookie of the Year.
The one-way nature of this deal is an interesting asterisk when considered against the Avalanche’s collection of centermen: Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon, Carl Soderberg, John Mitchell, Joey Hishon, Marc-Andre Cliche, and now Grigorenko make for an interesting center depth chart. Add a healthy Jesse Winchester into the mix and it’s likely the Avs will see a few of these players spend some time on the wings in the 2015-16 season much as MacKinnon has already done.
Agozzino, a fan favorite during his time on then-AHL-affiliate Lake Erie Monsters, is coming off a 30g/34a season, so this re-signing doesn’t come at all as a surprise. Agozzino has only played one game thus far for the Avalanche.
Mat Clark, acquired via trade from the Anaheim Ducks, is a rugged, big-bodied AHL defender that was considered a replacement for the Monsters’ Karl Stollery when he too was traded.
Agozzino signed for one year at $600k and will remain RFA. Clark signed for two years at $600k and will become unrestricted thereafter. Expect to see both players play the vast majority of their time for the Avalanche’s new AHL affiliate San Antonio Rampage.