Then and Now: Josh Gratton

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Tim Ramholt never played a game for the Philadelphia Flyers. In fact, the only NHL game Ramholt ever took part in was as a member of the Calgary Flames in the club’s  4-1 defeat to the Anaheim Ducks on November 29, 2007.

In the 2008-09 season, Ramholt was a member of the Philadelphia Flyers organization, taking part in seven games for the Philadelphia Phantoms before being shipped to the Nashville Predators in exchange for Chris Gratton’s cousin, winger Josh Gratton.

Potting two goals and three assists in seven contests to start that season with the Milwaukee Admirals, Gratton split time between the Flyers and Phantoms after being traded from Nashville. In 14 games with the Phantoms, Gratton had one goal and 46 penalty minutes, which included six fighting majors. With the Flyers, Gratton had a goal and two assists with 57 PIMs in 19 tilts taking part in 10 fights for the Orange and Black.

Gratton’s only goal as a Flyer came in a rather memorable 5-4 shootout victory for Philly on the road over the Anaheim Ducks on January 2, 2009. Not only did Gratton record his first and only goal as a Flyer, it was the same tilt that Ossi Vaananen netted his first and only goal as member of the Orange and Black. In the same affair, Andrew Ebbett scored his first goal in the NHL and Corey Perry, who was ironically named the first star of the game, was suspended four games for an elbow to Claude Giroux’s head.

Of his 10 fights with the Flyers, Gratton took on several heavyweights in the league such as Georges Laraque, Andrew Peters, Matt Bradley, and Mike Rupp. His most memorable bouts include getting dominated by Laraque in a Flyers’ 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on November 15, 2008, beating down Bradley in a Flyers’ 7-1 win over the Washington Capitals on December 20, 2008, and a toe-to-toe scrap against Craig Adams in a 5-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on December 26, 2008.

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As for the 2009 postseason, Gratton served as a member of the Phantoms. He took part in two games going pointless and recording one minor penalty, as the Phantoms were swept in the first round by the eventual Calder Cup champions in the Hershey Bears.

For the 2009-2010 season, Gratton joined the Atlanta Thrashers’ organization, as he played for the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. The Wolves also featured players like Drew MacIntyre, Chris Chelios, and Reid Simpson.

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Gratton spent the preseason with the Thrashers, earning three fighting majors in the process, but he spent the regular season in Chicago. In just 21 games for the Wolves, Gratton recorded 60 PIMs including eight fighting majors, one of which was against current Phantoms’ defenseman Dan Jancevski. He didn’t score a single goal, but Gratton did register two helpers and a minus-9 rating.

The forward then left the AHL to join Vityaz Chekhov of the KHL. Gratton fit right in with the club as they featured five other players who recorded 100 PIMs including former NHLer Chris Simon. In 11 games with the team, Gratton had two goals and three assists while finishing fourth on the team in PIMs with 112. In the 24-team league, Vityaz Chekhov finished 23rd with 13 wins in 56 games.

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The 2010-2011 season was the first time in Gratton’s professional career that he only played for one team for an entire year, as he remained with Vityaz Chekhov. One noticeable addition to the club for Gratton’s second campaign in the KHL was former Flyer Danny Markov.

Gratton led the highly-penalized Vityaz Chekhov, as well as the league, with 170 PIMs, while he was also able to pitch in five goals and two assists in 24 games.

The most eventful game of the season for Gratton, and the Vityaz Chekhov team, was a 3-2 loss to Avangard Omsk. Six seconds into the game, Gratton and the four other skaters on the ice for Vityaz Chekhov (Sergei Belokon, Ivan Larin, Denis Sergeyev, and Darcy Verot) jump all the skaters on the ice for Avangard Omsk. Gratton beat up Alexei Kalyuzhny and Martin Skoula (he’s number 92 in white in the video below).

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Gratton earned a 20-game suspension for his acts in the brawl, while Belokon earned 18 games. Larin and Verot earned 14 games leaving Sergeyev as the only Vityaz Chekhov skater not to be suspended despite being involved in the brawl.

This past season, Gratton left the violent Vityaz Chekhov organization to join Barys Astana, another KHL club. Vityaz Chekhov didn’t seem to miss a beat once Gratton left, as a trio of noteworthy fights joined the club in Jon “Nasty” Mirasty, Nick Tarnasky, and Jeremy Yablonski.

As for the former Flyer, Gratton joined a club that featured several former NHLers, such as: Kevin Dallman, Andrew Hutchinson, Brandon Bochenski, Dustin Boyd, Nigel Dawes, Lukas Kaspar, Kamil Kreps, and Jiri Novotny. Gratton had a goal and three assists in 35 games for the club while once again leading his team in PIMs with 91, while Kaspar finished second on the team with 44 PIMs. He had five fighting majors during the 2011-2012 KHL regular season.

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Barys Astana finished 10th in the league to make the playoffs with 25 wins in 54 games. As the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, Gratton’s team took on third-seeded Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the Conference Quarterfinals. Unfortunately for Barys Astana, they lost in a seven-game series. Gratton didn’t dress in any of the postseason games meaning his last taste of the postseason was with the Phantoms.

Gratton’s future with Barys Astana is uncertain, as the club is expected to go through major chances this offseason.