The list of restricted free-agent players the Avalanche tendered qualifying offers to was released Monday afternoon, and probably a player who wasn’t qualified made as much news as those that were.

The Avs chose not to given talented but mercurial forward Mikhail Grigorenko an offer, which means the Russian is an unrestricted free agent. Sources tell BSNDenver that he is likely to sign with a KHL team moving forward, though he’ll see if a decent NHL offer comes first.

While Grigorenko was cut loose, the Avs did qualify the following players: Sven Andrighetto, Gabriel Bourque, Felix Girard, Rocco Grimaldi, Matt Nieto, Duncan Siemens and Nikita Zadorov. The Avs thus retain their rights, and players can either accept the qualifying offer as their binding contract for 2017-18 or try to negotiate a better deal.

Of the players qualified, defenseman Zadorov is the most likely to want more than his QO. Negotiations between the Avs and Zadorov’s agent, Roland Hedges, are ongoing.

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It was a question mark whether the Avs would qualify the 2011 first-round pick Siemens, but in the end the Avs still felt he has the potential to stick with the big club.

Why was Grigorenko not qualified? He was sometimes singled out by coach Jared Bednar for taking too many penalties and for not being strong enough on the puck. He’s been dogged as a “coaster” for much of his NHL career, after being drafted in the first round (12th overall) by Buffalo in 2012. Grigorenko posted 10 goals and 23 points in 75 games this past season for the Avs, with 27 points in 74 games the year before.

While he showed flashes of the kind of talent that made scouts drool as a youngster coming out of Russia, Grigorenko just didn’t produce consistently enough, despite being given 11-15 minutes a game most nights. He made $1.3 million on the last year of his contract.


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Adrian Dater

Adrian Dater is a staff writer with BSNDenver. He started his journalism career way, way back in 1988 as a proofreader with the Concord Monitor as a kid out of college (Keene State College), and has wended its way since with a 25-year stop at The Denver Post, 20 of which were spent as the beat writer of the Colorado Avalanche, from its inception in 1995. Adrian has also worked as a primary hockey writer with Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, The Hockey News, and Bleacher Report. He is the author of seven sports books, including the best-selling “Blood Feud: Colorado Avalanche v. Detroit Red Wings, The Inside Story of Pro Sports’ Nastiest and Best Rivalry of Its Era” and “100 Things Avalanche Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die”, which was published in October, 2016.

  • Eric Rodrigue

    Another Roy project player failure.

    • Adrian Dater

      That’s a fair point. I think Roy fell in love too easily with his junior players, and the ones he saw as competitors. It’s still a long way from the QMJHL to the NHL

  • Todd Holt

    “Taking too many penalties” and yet they protected Blake Freaking Comeau, the “stupid penalty” KING of the team??? SMFH

  • avsfoodsleep

    anyone looking for Joe to make a “big move” he just made a big one, and flushed

  • Randy

    Only four Avalanche forwards had more points than Grigorenko last year despite his limited playing time and limited opportunities with the top two lines. He just turned 23, and if he signs with an NHL team, the Avs may regret giving up too soon on a kid whose goal totals have increased every season he’s played. I’m happy they signed Siemens, though.

    • bob_w

      I think when you look at the new blood expected to come up this season that they probably didn’t feel that there was room for him on the team. I am unsure of whether or not he could be sent to San Antonio. He is obviously going to be a “project” where ever he goes so they also may have felt that with all the young players coming in that there wasn’t going to be time to give him the amount of work necessary.

      • Randy

        I think you’re right, but I wonder if they made the right call. He’s a project, yet he outscored most of our forwards. Young blood is coming, yet he just turned 23 and is younger than guys like Henley and Grimaldi down in San Antonio. We’ll probably hang on to 30-somethings like Comeau and Soderberg (hopefully not Bourque) who cost more and scored less. It’ll be interesting to see where he ends up and how he does.

        • bob_w

          Also keep in mind that this season was an anomaly for most of the Avalanche players in that they had their statistically wort individual season statistics. So outscoring most of the forwards may not be that much of a factor. There are also a lot of things that happen out of the public spotlight that only the coaches, players and management are aware of that might factor into a decision like this.

  • chargerco

    I am glad they are giving Siemens a chance. Can’t teach size.
    Especially with the diminutive player size of this years Avs draft.
    I like the first two picks and the Russian forward. In the later rounds
    maybe the Avs should have picked up a few more players with size, even one would do.