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Grigorenko on way to recovery

Published Friday, January 16, 2004, 12:01 a.m. under Miscellaneous

There’s no doubt about it in Igor Grigorenko’s mind.

“He told our Russian scout he’s going to be better than he was before,” Detroit Red Wings scout Joe McDonnell said.

Grigorenko, who suffered a broken left thigh bone and two fractures in his left shin bone in a car accident on May 15 last year, made his return to the ice just before Christmas last month with Lada Togliatti-2 in Russia’s third-tier league.

Next stop — Detroit.

“We’re going to bring him over here soon to get the rod out of his leg and get him back on his way to total recovery,” McDonnell said.

McDonnell said the Red Wings haven’t set a date for the trip. But he hopes in the end Grigorenko can return to his pre-accident form. Before the crash, the 5-foot-10, 202-pound prospect collected 19 goals, 10 assists, 29 points and 82 penalty minutes in 47 games with Lada Togliatti of the Russian Elite League in 2002-03.

“It’s quite a story,” McDonnell said. “It’s phenomenal that he can even put skates on. I know one thing — he does have the competitiveness in him to succeed.”

FILPPULA IMPRESSES: If you’re looking for the next offensively-gifted European prospect in the ranks, look no further than Valtteri Filppula.

“He’s like a combination between a (Pavel) Datsyuk and a (Henrik) Zetterberg,” McDonnell said. “He’s a real creative guy, but not as explosive as Datsyuk.”

Filppula, who made the WJC all-star team earlier in the month with nine points in seven games, is having a terrific rookie year in the Finnish Elite League with three goals and 13 assists in 37 games.

While he was drafted at about 160 pounds, McDonnell said the 5-foot-11 center is up to about 180 pounds now. He’s several years away, but with a little more added muscle, he’ll be a force to be wreckoned with.

“I don’t know how the finish product is going to come out, but when he gets his strength to his maximum, he’s going to be a pretty good player,” McDonnell said. “He’s a guy we’ve got high hopes for down the road.”



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