|2009 U20 ADT Can-Rus Challenge|
Part of the newest wave to leave Russia for North America, Evgeni Grachev (New York Rangers) was drafted by the New York Rangers this summer and instantly arrived in the Canadian junior leagues, demonstrating his willingness to work his way up the ranks to the NHL.† Grachev is one of several 2008 drafted Russian prospects who are now playing in Canada.† This is not a surprise since the rocky relationship between the NHL and Russiaís KHL has apparently forced the NHL clubs to almost require prospects to skate in the juniors instead of Russia in order to be drafted. Grachev has already showed his talent in the juniors, recently netting four goals in a single game and overall becoming an offensive force for his Brampton Battalion.† RussianProspects.com prospect Alessandro Seren Rosso recently had a chance to catch up with Grachev and find out how the talented young player is adjusting to North America
Hello Evgeny. Tell us a little about your self.† Where were you born and why did you choose hockey?
I was born in Khabarovsk. My brother played hockey too and I used to attend his trainings and games often. And then I started playing myself.
At what age you moved to Yaroslavl to play hockey? Was it a hard move?
I moved to Yaroslavl at the age of 13. this decision was difficult because I was only a kid and I was choosing my future. Therefore mama asked if was sure that I wanted to play hockey and I said yes.
Who got you into hockey and what was your first team?
My parents brought me into hockey. At the age of 6 I started playing in the children hockey school of Amur Khabarovsk.
Were you already a forward?
Iíve became a forward only at the age of fourteen, when my trainer said: ďI need another center. I think that you can succeedĒ. And I agreed.
Is there any player in your position that you like, both in NHL or in the Superleague?
In the NHL and in the KHL there are many players that I like, but itís not easy to name one, because everyone has his own style. I like a lot [Evgeny] Malkin, [Ilya] Kovalchuk, [Alexander] Ovechkin, [Pavel] Datsyuk, [Alexei] Morozov and [Alexander] Semin.
How would you describe your game to the readers who know little about you?
I canít describe my game, simply I get on the ice and play hockey and I donít have idea about how my game appears from outside
What aspects of your game do you think you need to improve?
One should always sharpen his technique. I have to put a lot of attention on the defensive play and I should add to it some aggressivity.
How did you like it in Yaroslavl and in the Lokomotiv system?
Yaroslavlí is a old, beautiful city. There all was set to play hockey. There is a very good hockey school with excellent trainers. I can't say anything about the major team 'cause i've only been there for a few trainings and was in reserve for one game.
Talking about equipment, how many sticks have you used in your last season?
Why did† you choose to move from Russia to America? Maybe because you couldnít get a regular spot on the main teamís lineup?
Simply Iíve seen that a lot of young guys who day after day were bringing their uniform but played rarely Ė few games a season. Thatís why my decision to go to North America was easy.
What is the difference between being a junior player in Russia and in North America?
Personally I donít feel any difference but the fact that in North America junior hockey is way more followed than in Russia
After your experience in North America, do you prefer RSL Combination hockey or the tougher hockey played in the CHL?
Of course I prefer Russian hockey, but the north American one has its pluses that arenít present in the Russian one.
How do you like it in Brampton? Are you already familiar with the city?
Brampton is a little city in Torontoís suburbs. Absolutely I donít orient myself, I only know the way from the palace to the house.
You are often spoken as a winger in America, but in my opinion you are a center forward, and you played as center with the National Team. What do you think yourself?
Yes, I played as center in the National team and in my club too. To me there is no difference where to play. If the coach needs me as center, I play center, if winger, I play as winger.
What's your opinion about the new Kontinental Hockey League? Do you check results?
I constantly check the results. KHL tries hard to get the people into hockey and thatís good.
You skated with the Rangers in the training camp, what kind of experience was it?
It was simply great. This is a great club. I dream about playing for the Rangers.
Is hockey for you more work or life?
Itís not life nor work. Now itís a big part of my life.
What do you like to do in your spare time from hockey?
I spend time with the guys from my team, I watch movies, I spend a lot of time on the internet, messaging with my friends in Russia and with whose who play in the CHL.
Do you have a girlfriend?
In this moment not.
And finally, what do you expect from your future, not necessarily hockey-related?
Iím not waiting for something concrete. I simply live on a daily base. Iím 18 and everything in front of me is interesting.
- Alessandro Seren Rosso for RussianProspects.com