Difficulties of Avangard and Gritsyuk
Last season was very difficult for Arseniy Gritsyuk. Back in the summer of 2022, he received the Alexei Cherepanov award for the best young player of the 2021/2022 season, but the problems began in the fall. Avangard started the regular season with six losses in a row, changed coaches and for a long time could not get into the playoff zone, and the main Omsk talent scored only two goals in September and October. The transfers were also scarce: seven in two months. Later, both Avangard and Gritsyuk were recovering: the Hawks finished third in Vostok, and Arseniy scored 40 (15 + 25) points in the regular season, but in the playoffs the forward failed again, in total 4 (3 + 1 ). points in 11 games. This is the eighth result in the team, even the defender Damir Sharipzyanov scored more.
And all this against the background of rumors about difficult negotiations with the club and the extension of the contract, and even about the conflict between the general manager of Avangard Rashid Khabibulin and Gritsyuk’s agent Shumi Babaev. Serious almost hockey problems were added to the difficulties of the game.
At the end of May, the Omsk players risk losing several leaders whose contracts have ended, and in return they take very average players. Of the newcomers, the role of leaders can only be played by Libor Shulak and the young Igor Geraskin, and even then with a serious stretch.
Such uncertainty, seasoned with a clear disagreement with the leadership, is not the best option for a young hockey player with a somewhat stagnant career.
All major transitions and trades in the off-season. KHL transfer table
Photo: Victoria Trufanova, photo.khl.ru
Opportunity in Saint Petersburg
Last week, SKA made a qualifying offer for a two-year contract to restricted free agent Gritsyuk, and the hockey player accepted it. Such a turn seems like a lucky ticket for Arseniy.
Gritsyuk accepted SKA’s qualifying offer
It doesn’t matter what others say, but in St. Petersburg they have long learned how to successfully work with young and promising hockey players. At one point, Artemy Panarin, who was in an even more difficult situation than Gritsyuk now, got a lot of help here to restart his career. Over the past five years, Igor Shesterkin, Vladislav Gavrikov, Alexander Barabanov, Artyom Zub, Kirill Marchenko, Vasily Podkolzin, Andrey Kuzmenko have opened up at SKA. All these hockey players moved to St. Petersburg in the status of “up and coming”, and now they play in the NHL and are well positioned in their teams.
Last season, the army team brought at least four league stars to the level: Alexander Nikishin, Marat Khairullin, Marat Khusnutdinov and Vasily Glotov.
Yes, the St. Petersburg system has flaws when a promising hockey player cannot reach his potential, but with such a flow they are simply inevitable. In general, the SKA pyramid is working – developing young hockey players to the level of real KHL stars and ready-made players for the Russian team. For Gritsyuk, moving to SKA is a great opportunity to repeat the path of Panarin, Kuzmenko or Khusnutdinov.
Photo: Yuri Kuzmin, photo.khl.ru
SKA is more effective than AHL
According to media reports, the Petersburgers offered Gritsyuk a two-year contract totaling 115 million rubles plus bonuses. Until Saturday, Avangard can repeat these conditions and keep the hockey player. Perhaps this is the worst option for a young player – after all the events of this spring, it will be very difficult for him to continue his normal development in Omsk. Chances are he won’t stay there, he’d rather go to the NHL.
Gritsyuk’s North American rights are owned by New Jersey, where it will be very difficult for Arseniy to break into the team early on. Most likely, you will have to start with the Utica matches in the AHL. Difficult and unpromising path.
Which of the Russians in the last ten years has managed to get into the NHL through the American Hockey League? Only Vyacheslav Voynov and Nikita Kucherov come to mind. Surprisingly, even Andrei Svechnikov and Ivan Provorov, who developed abroad from a young age, did not play in the AHL. Both skipped this stage, entering the ranks of the Carolinas and Philadelphia straight out of the junior leagues.
It turns out that the path to the NHL through the SKA system is much more effective than trying to use the AHL as a springboard for professional development. In any case, there are now many more ex-servicemen at the heart of foreign clubs than people from the AHL.
Last summer, SKA gave Vladimir Tkachev to Avangard for free. In St. Petersburg, they realized that the attacker who had returned from America could not benefit the team, and they did not become a dog in the manger, they simply let him go to his native Omsk. Now Avangard has the chance to respond symmetrically to a beautiful gesture and give Arseniy Gritsyuk the chance to continue his development in St. Petersburg.