Denis Grot began his development in Russia with the program Lokomotiv playing for their junior team. After playing a few seasons for the junior team Grot earned a promotion to the senior league by being loaned to Elektrostal for the 2001-02 season. The exposure he received at the higher level of competition and his play at the Under 18 championships helped Grot be selected in the second round by the Canucks.
For 2002-03 season, Grot was once again loaned by Lokomotiv and played the year with Lipetsk of the Vysshaya League. After a second successful season, Lokomotiv was finally able to find him a spot on their senior team as Grot made his Super League debut in 2002-03. He was also invited to play for the Russian junior team where he led the team in plus/minus and was the team’s most dependable defenseman. After he returned from the championships, Grot’s playing time diminished as the team signed a couple of veteran defensemen, including former NHLer Dmitri Yushkevich.
2003-04: Denis Grot likely spent his last season with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. While the famed hockey school is well known for bringing out talented blue liners including Vitali Vyshnevsky, and Denis Grebeshkov, the Yaroslavl club never seemed to be the right place for Grot. The young blueliner appeared to finally make an impact last season when he spent most of the season in the club’s lineup and a dozen games on the top defensive pairing, but with the new coach and a new set of players, Grot was once more the odd man out with Lokomotiv, skating only one game during the 2004-05 season before being loaned to the RSL bottom feeder Sibir Novosibirsk. With Sibir the young defenseman’s ice time increased drastically and he played very well in a mostly defensive role. As the season came to an end, Grot was recalled from Sibir, but then again sent to the High League (Russia 2) playoff contender Amur (Khabarovsk). There the Vancouver Canucks second round pick finished the season in impressive form, getting a lot of ice time and seeing his role being shifted from strictly defense to some power play time and participation in the opponent’s end of the ice. Amur made it all the way to the semifinals of the High League playoffs, barely missing the cut for a promotion to the Russian Super League (Russia 1).
Talent AnalysisGrot is slowly developing into a two way game that will eventually help him develop into a NHL player. He is a very smooth skater with relative good speed and makes a good first pass out of the defensive zone. There have been improvements in his defensive game as he is relied more and more in crucial situations as well as on the penalty kill.
While Grot is not usually prone to making mistakes, he needs to continue to be vigilant in improving his defensive play to a level where he can play on a regular basis with Vancouver. He tends to turn the puck over when he tries to stickhandle out of dicey situations. While he isn’t shy about using his body, Grot lacks that valuable mean streak that helps many defensemen play on that edge. Another minor concern is whether Grot can overcome some nagging back injuries that have plagued his last couple of the years.