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Ask a Prospect -- Evgeny Grachev

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers
Evgeny Grachev
Evgeny Grachev, the Rangers' first of two third-round picks in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, spent the past week at the Madison Square Garden Training Center, taking part in the team's annual Development Camp. Coming off a 2008-09 season in which he became the first Rangers draftee to win the OHL Rookie of the Year Award, Grachev, 20, experienced his first year as a professional with the AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack in 2009-10. It was an important year of development in which he played in all 80 of Hartford's games. Grachev had nearly made the Rangers roster out of training camp last fall after turning heads with a very strong performance in the preseason.

At the start of the Development Camp, we invited fans to submit questions for Grachev and other prospects here on Grachev was gracious enough to respond to a few that we passed along to him. Here are the questions and his answers:

Paul Freeman from Old Bridge, N.J., asks:

Do you believe you can make the Rangers roster coming out of training camp?

Grachev's response:

There is nothing guaranteed for me. I'll just try to get in the best shape that I can to help myself be the best player I can be. Hopefully, I'll make it. I don't feel overconfident about making the team, but I do feel the confidence that I can do it.

Lubos Smolik from Plzen, Czech Republic, asks:

Were you satisfied with your season in Hartford?

Grachev's response:

It didn't go as I wanted it to go, but it was a huge experience for me to play my first pro season. Eighty regular-season games. And it was a different game from junior, so it was a good experience for me.

David from Hopewell Junction, N.Y., asks:

Did anything about your first year of professional hockey in North America surprise you?

Grachev's response:

I spoke with a lot of guys before, so I knew what to expect, but there's still a big difference between listening to other guys and actually being there yourself. I can't really say there was anything that really surprised me, though.

Jack Sullivan from Sound Beach, N.Y., asks:

What do you feel will be your best contribution to the Rangers?

Grachev's response:

First of all, there's my size. And I think I'm a pretty good skater for my size. I think I have a good shot and I can move the puck, too. I'm working on my defensive game, and I hope I'll be able to play well in all parts of the ice.

John from Vermont asks:

After completing your first year of pro hockey, what part of your game improved the most and what part of your game needs improvement?

Grachev's response:

It's hard to tell what I've improved. It was more about getting the experience in a new league. I just had to learn to do new things and change my game a bit. You can't turn over the puck in that league, because you'll get executed for that. That's something I learned. As far as improving, I feel like a person can improve themselves in so many ways all the time, until they are 50 or 100 years old. I do know I would like to get better in my hands and get a little bit quicker shot.

David Cain from West Babylon, N.Y. asks:

What current NHL player would you compare yourself to?

Grachev's response:

There really are a lot of players. I don't know why, because it's really not about their nationality, but I love the Russian guys. I looked at Datsyuk the last couple of years. I love his hands and the things he can do with them on the ice. Malkin, of course, is pretty good, and he's kind of the same size as me. But right now I think I look less at players I would like to be. I'm just trying to improve my game and be myself.

Aland asks:

What stick are you currently using and what do you like about it?

Grachev's response:

I like using Warriors, but last year I used CCM or Reebok. I like the stick to be soft, but not too soft. I like average stiffness. I don't like a grip at all. I like it just flat.

Yury Tokman from Brooklyn, N.Y. asks:

Have you been working to get stronger this summer to play in the NHL?

Grachev's response:

At the end of every year, Reg Grant and Jeremy Goodman, the strength and conditioning coaches on the Rangers and the Wolf Pack, give us a system to work with. So I do that stuff. It includes strength, cardio, speed and everything that we need. I also play some sports in the summer, mostly soccer and basketball.
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