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.
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.