When you come right down to it; that 2008 3rd round pick Evgeny Grachev scored his first OHL goal in the the first game he played in after the passing of fellow Ranger prospect and Russian Under-20 teammate Alexi Cherepanov is almost poetic in it's own way.
For Grachev one can only guess at what his emotions were playing on Thursday evening as his Brampton Battalion took on the Barrie Colts but it could be said that Grachev was playing with a little extra.
The box score will tell you that Grachev's goal was scored at 9:33 of the first period to give his Battalion team a 1-0 lead. What the box score does not tell you is that is was a goal scorer's goal.
Grachev fired a one timer from the top of the left face off circle; the kind of bang bang play that you expect from goal scorers. It was a pretty goal and if we can find a video of the goal we will post it up.
As for Grachev and the Troop, the goal was the start towards the Battalion's first road win of the season 5-4 over the Barrie Colts. Grachev continues to be the starting left wing and that is a good sign for the development of this future Ranger power forward.
We also would be remiss if we did not mention that Grachev's linemate Matt Duchene is rising up the first of the 2009 preliminary draft lists as several are already projecting Duchene as no worse than the 4th overall selection in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
It has to be brought up as the best way to develop a prospect is for him to play with the best possible teammates and Duchene is very clearly that.
Smoking off to Slovakia
That David Skokan (2007 7th round) has decided to leave the Charlotte Checkers of the ECHL and return to Slovakia came as no surprise to us. Quite simply put the 19 year old was not ready for the pro game and there in our eyes is a lot of blame to go around.
Skokan was just beginning to show his potential over the second half of last season with the Rimouski Oceanic in the QMJHL but needed more seasoning. We do not know why the Oceanic did not want him back or if Skokan simply did not want to come back but it was the wrong move.
There is talent here but it remains raw and undeveloped so another season in the QMJHL would have helped all concerned from the player to the Rangers to whoever in the QMJHL would have signed him.
The Rangers should have known that Skokan was not ready for the professional level and worked harder to encourage Skokan to either find a team in the QMJHL or simply remain in Europe for another season.
Now the hope is that Skokan is not leaving the Checkers/Rangers on bad terms so a return in the future can be worked out.
However we wonder if Tomas Zaborsky will not be too far behind his countryman in returning to Europe as Zaborsky is a finesse player who we just do not see as the right place for the smallish player either. Quite honestly nothing against the Checkers but we do not view the ECHL as the developmental league that they like to say they are.
The Europeans via the IIHF have been saying that Europe is the best place to develop European players and that NHL teams should return those prospects back to Europe for development if they are not NHL ready.
On that count we have to agree as when we see players like a Skokan or a Zaborsky in the ECHL we seriously question how they can develop in that league.
(pictures: Grachev-Brampton (OHL), Skokan- New York Rangers)
6 hours ago