Panthers strike deal with 2018 draft pick Grigori Denisenko

TIM REYNOLDS (AP Sports Writer)
Grigori Denisenko, right, of Russia, puts on a jersey after being selected by the Florida Panthers during the NHL hockey draft in Dallas, Friday, June 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

MIAMI (AP) -- The Florida Panthers finally have a deal with Russian forward Grigori Denisenko.

The Panthers announced Tuesday that Denisenko has agreed to a three-year entry level contract - though it remains unclear when that contract will be officially signed and begin to take effect, given the uncertainty of the current NHL season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Denisenko was the 15th overall pick by the Panthers in the 2018 draft. The forward has been with Lokomotiv of the KHL, Russia's top league.

''Grigori is an exciting, dynamic and highly skilled young forward who has been a top player on the international stage and served as captain of Team Russia at the World Juniors,'' Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said. ''We are thrilled for his bright future with the Panthers for years to come.''

At the world junior championship earlier this year, Denisenko had a team-best nine points on three goals and six assists in seven games. He helped the Russians win the silver medal.

He had six goals and six assists in 38 games with Lokomotiv this past season.

''We are grateful to our pupil for his contribution to the success of all the teams of the Lokomotiv system and wish good luck across the ocean,'' Lokomotiv said in a statement after the agreement was announced.

It's unknown when Denisenko will arrive in South Florida. The NHL has been shut down for nearly two months because of the pandemic.

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