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Evgeny Grachev: Work in Progress (UPDATE)

 

                         If you scratch your head about the handling of the Heikkinen situation, what about Evgeny Grachev?  Should the soon-to-be 20-year-old (Sunday), who scored 80 points in juniors have been allowed to play for Russia in the World Junior Championships?  And has the shift from center to wing---which began last season in Ontario---worked at the next level?     

                        The 6-foot-4 Grachev, whose English---if not his game---has really improved since training camp, isn’t satisfied with his season. “I don’t get as much points as I’d like,” said Grachev, the Rangers third-rounder in 2008 who was 40-40-80 in 60 games with Brampton as a junior.

                        There, he began playing left wing, mostly with No. 3 overall draft pick in 2009, Matt Duchene. He is 12-13-25 in 56 games in Hartford, where I spoke with him yesterday.    

                       The transition for countryman Artem Anisimov seemed easier (16-27-43 in 74 G in 2007-08 in Hartford) and when asked if he believed that he was going through a period of adjustment, Grachev said: “I believe so…I hope so. I’m just trying to not think about it, just trying to get some experience, every night, every game. (Head coach) Kenny (Gernander) has been working with me on defense, he’s trying to get my attention most on that part of the game.” 

                     You can still sense a little disappointment in being prohibited from playing for Russia for 11 days in Saskatoon at the WJC. But he is diplomatic. “Of course, I would like to go,” he said, “but there were a lot of games here,” he said.

                     Then, there is the position shift, which I had speculated was being done to groom him to play with Anisimov, a center, in New York. Incorrect. The Rangers told me today that he was going to be switched to wing all along, regardless of Anisimov.

                    Grachev, who played center in Russia, has certainly been inconsistent this season, many observers say. In Hartford,  he has skated with Dale Weise and Brodie Dupont, and lately with Dupont and Kenny Roche. “It’s just different," he said. "At center, you have to find your wings more. On the wing, there’s more stops and starts.”

                     In the summer, “I’ll go home and skate and train with my old team, Yaroslav…if they allow me,” he said with a grin.

New York Sports