Blue Jackets’ Grigorenko deal ‘signed and sealed’ but must wait until July 1

Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen joined Hockey Central and credited head coach John Tortorella of keeping the team’s compete bar set high and getting the most out of his players.

Though it’s not officially on the Columbus Blue Jackets‘ books just yet, the one-year deal signed by Russian forward Mikhail Grigorenko is as good as done, if you ask both parties.

“We’ve signed the contract on both sides,” general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said during an appearance on Hockey Central on Tuesday, when asked about the contract. “There was a miscommunication with the timeframe that it was supposed to be filed in, and now we know it’s July 1.”

The NHL ruled the one-year, $1.2-million deal void on Monday, just hours after the team announced the signing.

This caused a little bit of confusion in the hockey community, considering the Toronto Maple Leafs had recently signed Russian free agent Alexander Barabanov for the 2020-21 season and the Montreal Canadiens did the same Tuesday morning with former KHL goalie Vasili Demchenko. All three are unrestricted free agents, but the key difference here was that the Maple Leafs’ and Canadiens’ free agent signees had not previously been drafted nor played in the NHL and thus were eligible to sign entry-level pacts.

Grigorenko, on the other hand, was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres back in 2012 and also spent two seasons with the Colorado Avalanche from 2015 to 2017, which rules him ineligible to sign a new NHL deal — one that doesn’t include the current season — until the start of free agency on July 1.

Kekalainen said Tuesday that the contract is, “signed and sealed, but it will be filed and registered on July 1,” echoing the team’s statement from Monday night.

Grigorenko told Blue Jackets reporter Aaron Portzline, of The Athletic, that he’s honouring the agreement.

“I’ve made my decision,” Grigorenko told Portzline. “I believe the contract is valid and it will be filed on July 1. I don’t think anything changes. There’s no way I’m going to talk to any other teams.”

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