Grigorenko's time is now
The young Russian might be in
The highest profile player at this weekend's Red Wings prospects camp has an out clause in the contract that he signed with
But professionally, the NHL is the place to be.
"Everyone wants to play in the best league," said Grigorenko with his agent, Mark Lapush interpreting.
"He will be playing here definitely," said Lapush. "Wait until you see what he does if they put him with someone like (Pavel) Datsyuk."
Grigorenko has the best chance of any of the players at this weekend's prospects camp to stick with the Red Wings. At 24, Grigorenko is the oldest player at the camp. He's also the prospect with the best resume, having played five seasons in the Russian Super League and competed for his homeland in the World Championships and the World Juniors. As a 20-year-old, he skated on a line at the World Championships with Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk.
Grigorenko will be given every opportunity to prove his value this weekend, at the main training camp next week and throughout the preseason. He has the potential to be a scoring-line forward in the NHL for many years to come.
"We'd like to think he's going to be a good player at this (prospects) tournament," said
The upside for Grigorenko teases Red Wings' fans. His potential, however, is mated with lingering question marks.
Four years ago, Grigorenko was in a serious car accident that shattered his leg and eventually had him fighting for his life in a Russian hospital with a fat embolism in his lung. Grigorenko said Friday that he feels that his level of play is back to the same as it was before the accident.
Grigorenko spent his time between lunchtime practice and nighttime game to fill out his application for a Social Security card. In many ways, his life off the ice is more difficult now than on the ice.
"The game feels the same (here as in
There are, however, indications that the Russian came to this camp not in top physical condition. One member of the Red Wings' hierarchy confirmed that the club was concerned that Grigorenko hadn't worked hard enough during the summer. The Russian was slow at the end of shifts during the first game of the prospects tournament.
"Before the accident, he reminded me of Slava Kozlov, but better," said Hakan Andersson,
Drafted in 2001, Grigorenko has long been one of the Red Wings' top prospects. His injuries from the car accident in 2003 set back his development, but in the past three seasons, Grigorenko has had successful Russian Super League campaigns. He finished 18th in scoring in 2005-06.
If he can produce offense in the NHL as he has in
"Grigorenko is going to be a big challenge," said