Being a 5’10”, Russian forward is almost a surefire reason to not make the NHL, but the very talented Devils prospect, Arseni Gritsyuk, may just break that stigma.
Omskie Yastreby vs. Tolpar Ufa (3-2)
January 6, 2020
Name: Arseni Gritsyuk (#81)
Height/Weight: 5’10″/157 lbs.
Team: Omskie Yastreby (MHL)
NHL Affiliate: New Jersey Devils (2019 NHL Draft, #129 Overall)
Immediate offensive impact from Arseni Gritsyuk here, as he gets the puck in the neutral zone. A clean zone entry gives him a clear shooting lane, but he falls down on the shot, and the netminder, Dmitri Braginsky, makes the save. He plants down in the corner, and falls behind the play for the Tolpar breakout. In the defensive zone, Gritsyuk gets beat to the puck on the boards by Ildan Gazimov (#56), who is able to find Danil Ajmurzin (#53), but Dubrovsky makes the save.
Gritsyuk starts this shift in the defensive zone, and disrupts two plays using his stick. He gets the puck and makes the breakout pass to Vladimir Mashkov (#70), who gets tripped up near the blue line (no call on the trip). Gritsyuk reads the situation quickly, and moves to the other side of the ice to disallow a clean zone entry. Alexander Yaremchuk (#85) passes it off the boards to the bolting Arseni Gritsyuk, who overskates to puck, but recovers well by giving Yaremchuk a nice pass, but Braginsky makes the save.
After the offensive zone faceoff, Gritsyuk primarily spent this shift screening the goalie and waiting for a shot to come toward him. Oleg Teterin (#39) played a similar pass to the one from Yaremchuk in the previous clip, but Gritsyuk failed to stay onside.
A nice and simple shift here. Omsk wins the offensive zone faceoff and Gritsyuk circles back to the point. Nikita Skorobogatov (#56) drops it off to him, and he fires it at the net. Yaremchuk recovers it and finds Mashkov, who breaks the tie.
G – Mashkov
A1 – Yaremchuk
A2 – Gritsyuk
Not too much happening here, until the Gritsyuk line has a chance for a high danger opportunity. Yaremchuk entered the zone just milliseconds too early, and the play was called offside.
A high-effort shift here, as the game approached the end of the first period. He wins the puck in the neutral zone and shows off his great skating and stickhandling ability. Gritsyuk evades the pressure from Tolpar and drops it back to his defenseman. At the end of this shift, he made a small, but effective defensive play by blocking off Shakir Mukhamadullin’s (#95) point-to-point passing lane. This led to a weak shot on goal, which was easily saved by Dubrovsky, and then some chaos ensued in front of the net. The play was reviewed for about five minutes, before they decided there was no goal scored.
In the last shift of the first, Gritsyuk lined up directly behind the faceoff circle. He got the puck and missed the net from a dangerous spot. He gets caught behind the play again here, as he tries to foresee the play a bit too much, and it ends up going against him. Alexei Pustozyorov (#89) gets an easy zone entry from it, but the Omsk defense does enough to stop the attack.
Another strong shift offensively here. He started off trailing his two teammates on the counter attack, but picked up the rebound and got a dangerous shot off after skating through Tolpar’s defense. Gritsyuk almost got the rebound after Skorobogatov’s shot from the point, but then he recovered the puck, and once again circled the zone, and fired off a shot from a decent angle.
After intercepting the neutral zone pass, Gritsyuk fires off a dime to Mashkov on a 1-on-0 breakaway. Mashkov finishes the chance and collects his second goal of the game.
G – Mashkov
A1 – Gritsyuk
A not-so-great shift here from Gritsyuk. This stretch of play shows off a lack of aggressiveness from the forward, as he shies away from two board battles. He recovered the puck and passed it off to Yeremchuk, which led to a high danger chance for Omsk. When the puck moved back into Omsk’s defensive zone, Gritsyuk seemed lost and was stuck floating around.
G – Dergunov
A1 – Goloshchapov
An offensive zone start here for Gritsyuk, and Yaremchuk finds him moving towards the slot. He doesn’t get all of the puck, and Braginsky saves it. Mashkov executes a perfect stick check in the defensive zone, and takes it all the way to the other end. Braginsky makes another save, but Gritsyuk is there to put the rebound home. One of Gritsyuk’s best assets is his ability to read plays and act upon them faster than his opposition. Here, he knows exactly where to be in the case of a rebound, and right when he saw the puck bounced toward him, he was able to react faster and get the shot off.
G – Gritsyuk
A – Mashkov
Gritsyuk gets about half a minute of powerplay time in his final shift of the second. Tolpar was doing well to move the puck into Omsk’s zone and getting some shots on goal, but right when Gritsyuk stepped on this ice, the tides moved back into Omsk’s favor. He gets the puck from the boards and speeds through the neutral zone before laying it off to Daniil Berestnev (#93). He floated around the zone, until Artyom Murylev (#34) tried to get a pass off to him. Gritsyuk was ready for it, and was in a dangerous area to shoot, but the pass was off target. Gritsyuk got the puck back and moved it around to his blue-liners, and Murylev did get a shot on net, but it was saved. Arseni Gritsyuk tried a shot from a very difficult angle that lacked any real danger, instead of trying the pass to Berestnev. He and Berestnev did make some nice moves around the boards, and Gritsyuk found an open Mashkov, who got a great shot off with just one-second left, but Braginsky shut him down.
To start the third, Gritsyuk tried to get the puck near the net for either a lucky goal or for Yeremchuk to get a stick on it and finish it off. Neither of which happened here, so the puck sailed around the boards and Tolpar picked it up. Gritsyuk backed away from Ajmurzin as he entered the zone, which worked out well, as he gave the puck away and allowed Machkov to almost hit Gritsyuk who would’ve had his own 1-on-0 chance. Gritsyuk recovered the best he could, but Braginsky covered the puck and ended the play there.
Once again, Gritsyuk lined up behind the faceoff circle, but instead of shooting this time, he tried to find Machkov with a pass. He picked up the puck again along the boards, and passed it straight to the defenseman, Mukhamadullin. This led to what looked to be a counter attacking opportunity. As Gazimov attempted to move the puck back into the zone, Gritsyuk made a great play with his stick to break it up, and the attack fizzled out. He received a good dump pass by Murylev, and broke the puck into the zone. Gritsyuk dropped it off to Timofey Davidov (#75), who couldn’t beat Braginsky on the dangerous shot.
Omsk won the faceoff, and Gritsyuk sped down the ice and backed down the defenseman to get the puck from the dump-in. He tried to make a pass to Machkov in the slot, but there were far too many Tolpar players in the way for it to make it through. He created an offensive chance by banging a pass towards Machkov in the neutral zone, and it found its way through, but just too far ahead. Gritsyuk got a tip on Skorobogatov’s point blast, but once again, Braginsky made the stop.
Gritsyuk got in the way of an attempted Tolpar point pass, and dumped it in to nobody in particular. He tried to fetch his own pass, but doesn’t put the most effort into it. He made a smart pass to the streaking Yeremchuk, who made a great chance for himself, but couldn’t get the shot off in time. Nobody made an effort to stop Danil Alalykin (#61) and he cut the deficit to one goal.
G – Alalykin
A1 – Amirov
These last two shifts for Gritsyuk are very disappointing. He starts off his 17th shift of the game very conservatively, and was just trying to suppress passes on defense, which is fine. What was not so fine, was when Teterin tried to pass it to Gritsyuk around the boards, and he made no movement to try to get to the puck before a Tolpar player. Unsurprisingly, he was beat to the puck, but was lucky that nothing came from it.
An attempted stick check at the beginning of this shift was about all the effort he had left in him. He floated around the defensive zone, slowly made his way out when the puck exited, and capped it off with a “board battle” that showed very little aspiration of winning the puck for his team. On a quickly moving play from Mackov and Yeremchuk, once again, Gritsyuk trudged behind and watched them try to move the puck into the zone. He barely even made it into the offensive zone before the play had already broken down. Omsk had a chance to put a nail in the coffin with a goal here, but Gritsyuk didn’t seem as determined as his linemates to get it. One positive was that he didn’t get caught behind the play again, and got back to the zone quickly and made a play there. Dubrovsky made a huge save on the open Tolpar player, and the puck was cleared. Gritsyuk was fine for the last ten-or-so seconds of the game, although his attempted clearance didn’t come to fruition.
Arseni Gritsyuk is a very talented player on both ends of the ice. He is a quick skater, he has nice stick work, and he reads play very well. Some issues with his game are that he seems to get either caught behind the play or just seemingly lost on defense. The other major issue that was especially prevalent this game was a lack of effort. Like I said, he’s a quick skater, but he rarely uses all of his speed when he should be. When a teammate passes it to you around the boards, you should be racing to get the puck before the opposition gets there. Maybe there’s a coaching issue for Omsk, but that part of his game really stands out as an eyesore.
Some positives to take from this game were, when he’s active on the ice, he makes some really nice plays. Whether it be breaking the puck out of the defensive zone on the powerplay or just a simple stick check to kill a play, he does make a lot of impactful decisions. I chose this game because Tolpar are one of the best teams in the MHL and they have a lot of talent on their team. Gritsyuk played well up to the closing parts of the third period, where he should’ve been playing harder because of how important a win against one of the best teams is. Lastly, remember that Gritsyuk isn’t a very big player either. Being 5’10” and 157 pounds isn’t appealing to a lot of teams, especially when that player shies away from board battles and the gritty parts of the game, but with time, he has improved his involvement for Omsk.