Nineteen-year-old Evgeny Grachev skated in last week’s New York Rangers development camp after finishing his first year in the OHL with the Brampton Battalion, scoring 80 points in the regular season and adding another 25 in the playoffs. The Battalion’s playoff rush was crushed against the Windsor Spitfires, who defeated them 4-1 in the league’s finals, where Grachev missed the last two games. In the other three, he collected only one assist, but the whole team has been outplayed by the opposition.
In this interview, Grachev spoke about the prospect camp, about his chances with the Rangers this fall, and Team Russia‘s chances in the next WJC.
HF: You just participated in the Rangers’ prospects camp, do you expect to be a New York Ranger in the upcoming 2009-10 season?
EG: This will be known only in September, after all the training camps and the preseason matches. Now my main aim is to prepare well for the next season and get myself in a great shape right on time for the Rangers’ training camp.
HF: Who impressed you most among your teammates in the camp?
EG: Honestly speaking, I think that no one really shined and moreover we’ve got little time to look at one another. And plus the guys weren’t in their best form as it was only the start of July.
HF: Which of the goalies was hardest to score on?
EG: Oh, well, I don’t really know. It’s the first time I saw these goalies. I didn’t even know their names. (laughs)
HF: Why did you miss Friday’s scrimmage? Were you injured?
EG: The team’s doctor dismissed me from any ice activity.
HF: During the camp, what kind of workouts did you do?
EG: We started on ice, but after that the whole team moved to the gym to work there.
HF: You’re now lived in North America for one year already. Do you think you completed your adaptation?
EG: I don’t understand everything in the local way of life, but I am used to it all by now.
HF: And how comfortable you are with English language?
EG: I don’t say that I can talk freely, but I understand and can explain myself and thus I don’t have any particular problem.
HF: What are your plans for the rest of the summer?
EG: I am still in New York and I’m making plans for the rest of the summer as we speak. But nothing is clear yet.
HF: While in America, do you keep on following the KHL? What’s your favorite team there?
EG: Yes, I do, of course. I’m a lot interested in what’s going on in Russia. In my homeland, my favorite team is [KHL’s] Amur, simply because I was born in Khabarovsk.
HF: And what do you think about the formation of the MHL (Molodezhnaya Hockey League, first panrussian junior league)?
EG: I don’t think that much will change comparing the new league with the league there was before, with farm teams. But it will be interesting to watch anyway.
HF: Can you compare your game last season and now?
EG: I can’t really do such a comparison. But I can say that I’ve added a lot of confidence and of course you don’t play around 100 games in a season for nothing. Every year I learn more and more about playing as a forward. After all I’ve played as forward only since I was 14.
HF: Would you like to play on a line with other young Russian player in the Rangers organization, Artem Anisimov?
EG: Playing with him would be surely interesting. In fact, we never played together.
HF: The last couple of seasons are seeing some tension between the NHL and Russia because of some questionable moves from one country to another. What do you think about the current relationships between NHL and KHL regarding players’ transfers?
EG: I haven’t got the faintest idea about how the ties are going. And I have to say that I’m not interested in this argument since my plan is to play in America.
HF: The Russian national junior team just changed head coach, from Sergei Nemchinov to Vladimir Plyuschev. Plyuschev looks really determined towards winning the gold medal in the next WJC, what do you think about Team Russia’s chances?
EG: Every Russian national team is a gold-medal contender. There are great chances. I think that we will bring to the WJC a very good team. I never played under Plyuschev’s direction, but he’s a coach with much experience in world championships and also a gold-medal champion. I feel like we have great chances this year.