New Jersey Devils: How Does Russian Order Impact Arseni Gritsyuk?

New rules from the Russian government could hold New Jersey Devils prospect Arseni Gritsyuk in the KHL for longer than we hoped.

SKA Hockey Club player, Arseny Gritsyuk (81)
SKA Hockey Club player, Arseny Gritsyuk (81) / SOPA Images/GettyImages

Prospects are at the top of many hockey fans' minds this week. The World Junior Championship started, and everyone is checking out their team's top prospects. Two of the Devils' top three prospects, Seamus Casey and Lenni Hämeenaho, are representing their countries at the beginning of the tournament. Both players have looked good, but there is one New Jersey Devils prospect who isn't taking part because he's playing professional hockey in Russia.

Arseni Gritsyuk has looked really good at times this season. He has 10 goals for SKA St. Petersburg. He hasn't been incredibly consistent, but his goals have been awesome.

He's scored goals in multiple different ways. Playing for SKA gives him a slight advantage since they are one of the best teams in the KHL. They are fourth in the standings as of this writing. Gritsyuk hasn't played every game this year, getting in on 25 games out of the 44 that SKA has played so far. This happens often for young players. Matvei Michkov, who started the season with SKA, has been kept on the sidelines for most of the season.

A new rule that's come to light might make things harder for Russian hockey stars to make the jump to the NHL. A report coming from an interview with hockey agent Shumi Babaev has alarms sounding for any team waiting on Russian prospects. He said there's an order from President Vladimir Putin to hold young stud prospects in the country for what many are saying is five years.

While it's all rumors at this point, hearing about Russian players being held has some Devils fans concerned. There's good news and bad news here. If the motion is five years, that basically puts Gritsyuk on the same timeline he was already on. His current contract runs through 2025, which would give him five years of service in the KHL. That's only a season and a half from now, and more assume he's either going to be NHL ready or not.

Gritsyuk likely wasn't coming over to North America this offseason. This new rule really doesn't impact him trajectory. In fact, there's a possibility he could sign another short contract (although that's pretty unlikely). If he's ready for the NHL or even close, the Devils are going to bring him over. This rule, luckily, shouldn't impact that.

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