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Grigorenko, Kovalev make opening-night rosters

Friday, 01.18.2013 / 8:47 PM / NHL Insider

By Mike Battaglino - NHL.com Staff Writer

The new season will start with several new faces, and some we haven't seen in a while.

A number of talented young players were named to opening-night rosters when NHL teams made them official Friday evening.

The Buffalo Sabres kept 18-year-old forward Mikhail Grigorenko, a first-round pick (No. 12) at the 2012 NHL Draft.

"I'm real happy that I'm on an NHL team now," he told the Buffalo News. "I'm really excited and hopefully I'm going to be playing."

The newspaper reports Grigorenko has skated at center with Steve Ott and Ville Leino at wing. Grigorenko had 50 points (29 goals) for Quebec in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this season.

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The Sabres open their season Sunday afternoon at home against the Philadelphia Flyers.

"Every time I'll be on the ice, all shift ... I need to do my best," Grigorenko said. "Don't do something I can't do. Play good defensively. As soon as I have the puck, try to create something offensively. ... It's going to be a great, great crowd here. Hopefully I will score and it would be awesome to hear my name."

Forward Alex Galchenyuk will play on the second line for the Montreal Canadiens in their opener Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs, coach Michel Therrien told TSN.

Galchenyuk helped the United States win the gold medal at the World Junior Championship earlier this month, and the 18-year-old had 61 points (27 goals) in 33 games for the Sarnia Sting in the Ontario Hockey League.

"I knew there was a chance (to make the team), but I didn't know 100 percent, so I was a little nervous coming in today," Galchenyuk told TSN. "I'm extremely happy, and there's been no better feeling in my life so far."

Rookie forward Brendan Gallagher, 20, also made the Canadiens' 23-man roster.

"They've handle themselves extremely well in a shortened camp," captain Brian Gionta told TSN. "They've worked hard and deserve the spots. They're both extremely talented and I'm sure they're looking forward to tomorrow night."

Another rookie forward, Sven Baertschi, earned a spot on the Calgary Flames' roster. The 20-year-old had three goals in five NHL games when called up in March last season.

"I told him to give us what he can, and I think at his young age he can give us a lot, but I will not judge Sven's game only by his offensive numbers," coach Bob Hartley told the team's website Friday.

Other highly touted teenagers on NHL rosters (at least for now) are Dougie Hamilton (Boston Bruins), Nail Yakupov (Edmonton Oilers), Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida Panthers), Matthew Dumba (Minnesota Wild), Stefan Matteau (New Jersey Devils) and Mark Scheifele (Winnipeg Jets).

One who did not was Morgan Reilly, who was sent back to the Western Hockey League by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

If any of the junior players participates in at least six games for their NHL team, it will count as a year of their entry-level contract.

Three veteran players are making their way back into the League: Alex Kovalev made the Florida Panthers with a training-camp tryout; Tom Poti will return to the Washington Capitals after a two-year absence; and Wade Redden was signed by the St. Louis Blues.

Kovalev, 40 next month, played part of last season in the Kontinental Hockey League after finishing the 2010-11 season with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He signed a one-year contract.

"It's been a long time and I never thought I would have a chance to go back to the NHL again," Kovalev told the Panthers' website. "But I kept my hopes alive … I'm glad this organization gave me a chance."

Dmitry Kulikov
Dmitry Kulikov
Defense - FLA
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 24 | PTS: 28
SOG: 104 | +/-: -5

The Panthers also reportedly re-signed defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, who had been a restricted free agent, and named Ed Jovanovski captain.

Poti, 36 in March, last played on Jan. 12, 2011, and injuries to his groin and pelvis kept him sidelined since. He was recalled from Hershey of the American Hockey League, where he played two games.

"If he's healthy, he can help us," general manager George McPhee told the Washington Post. "He's a good player. It makes our team better, I think, if he’s ready to go.

"We've just got our fingers crossed that this lasts more than two days or three days or two weeks. (We) hope he doesn’t go down two weeks from now."

The Blues on Friday signed defenseman Redden, who was waived and bought out by the New York Rangers. Redden, 35 and a 13-year veteran, spent the past two seasons with the Connecticut Whale, the Rangers' AHL affiliate.

Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban and Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn, each a restricted free agent, remain unsigned with play to begin this weekend. Former Canadiens forward Scott Gomez also remained on the market as of Friday night.

I was in there icing my face as she was trying to push a baby out.

— Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf on going to the hospital with a facial laceration while his wife was in labor following Game 1 on Wednesday