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|Russians excited to meet Varly
22 июля 2015 года. Chambers, Mike. Denver Post
Since joining the Avalanche in 2011, goalie Semyon Varlamov has been the team's only player from Russia. Verbal communication and his general comfort zone weren't ideal, particularly in the first of his four seasons in Colorado. He could have used a homegrown buddy.
Being the only Russian on teams dominated by Canadians wasn't necessarily a problem, but beginning next season, Varlamov will feel more at home with new additions Mikhail Grigorenko from Khabarovsk, Russia, and Nikita Zadorov, from Moscow.
Grigorenko, a 6-foot-3 forward who goes by Grigo, and 6-5 defenseman Zadorov, or Big Z, were the Avs' main acquisitions in the June 26 draft-night trade with Buffalo that sent Ryan O'Reilly and Jamie McGinn to the Sabres. The two young Russians -- both former first-round draft picks by the Sabres -- felt fortunate to play together in Buffalo and even more pleased to be packaged to Denver and join Varlamov, a superstar in his homeland.
"It was great when I saw the trade, and it got even better when I knew it was with Nikita," said Grigorenko, who speaks fluent English. "It's great being able to go somewhere with one of your best friends. I'm really excited about that. We're really good friends. He's a good guy, and we've known each other for a while.
"And as for Varlamov, we're both excited to play with him. He's a special goalie."
Neither Grigorenko, 21, or Zadorov, 20, has met Varlamov, 27, but both have arrived in Colorado to make living arrangements and meet with their new coaches and trainers.
Grigorenko can play center or wing and is expected to vie for a spot on the top three lines. Zadorov is pegged to partner with Tyson Barrie on the second blue-line pairing.
"I've played against him, and he's obviously a very good offensive player," Zadorov said of Barrie, whom he has not yet met. "I'm sure we'll work well together."
The Avs also obtained University of Michigan captain J.T. Compher in the trade with Buffalo and the 31st draft pick June 27, which was traded to San Jose for the 39th pick (Boston University forward A.J. Greer) and two future picks. In all, Colorado gained six players -- including five first- or second-round draft picks -- and lost two.
"We really liked the trade," Zadorov said. "I wouldn't say having Mikhail come over with me makes it easier, but I still have my best friend on the team. We're just both excited about the trade and going to a great organization, great city."
Varlamov joined the NHL straight out of Russia in 2008. But Grigorenko and Zadorov both played two years in the Canadian Hockey League's major-junior system to prepare themselves for the North American game and lifestyles. Grigorenko starred for the Patrick Roy-coached Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Zadorov for the Ontario Hockey League's London Knights.
They were teammates for Russia's 2013-14 World Junior Championship team that upset Canada in the bronze-medal game in Malmo, Sweden, and both had big tournaments against the world's top 19-under players.
Grigorenko's three-year entry-level contract expired July 1, and the Avs signed him to a one-year, one-way $675,000 contract. Zadorov has two years remaining on his entry-level deal that pays him $894,166, although he is eligible to play in the minors at a base of $70,000 without clearing waivers.
Two other Russians -- defensemen Andrei Mironov and Sergei Boikov -- might be future Avs after being selected by Colorado in the fourth and sixth rounds, respectively, on June 27.