NHL Draft Prospect Profile #2: Mikhail Grigorenko

Drafted #12 Overall By Buffalo Sabres

As we continue with our draft prospect profiles, we move on to last word’s number 2 ranked prospect, Mikhail Grigorenko, of the Quebec Remparts in the QMJHL.

Born May 16 1994 Khabarovsk, Russia
Height 6.03 — Weight 195 — Shoots L

2011-12 Quebec Remparts QMJHL 59 40 45 85 12 35

Grigorenko is the big prototypical top 6 offensive centre that teams dream about when they enter the draft lottery.  He’s got the ideal size, and the offensive skill that every team in the NHL would love to have.  He has excellent vision and passing ability and will be a playmaker at the next level.  Many scouts have compared his game to Joe Thornton, as the big playmaking centre, who controls the play, can’t be knocked off the puck, and has superb vision and passing abilities.  Grigorenko however has the added dimension of an excellent wrist shot and release, he’s shown the ability to score goal.  A year in North America playing for the Quebec Remparts can only help him as it shows his adaptation to the smaller ice, to the language, and dispels some of the fears (not all) but some of the fears about the KHL.

On the negative side, some scouts have questioned his desire and say he doesn’t bring a consistent effort level on a regular basis.  He’s also very much a perimeter player and not really a physical presence despite his great size.  The Russian factor may also come into play here, however as in the case of Nail Yakupov, it is somewhat diminished by the fact Grigorenko is playing in North America.

One does have to question how true these concerns are, as here is a guy who played through a severely sprained ankle in the quarterfinals of the World Junior Championships and still played in the Semi-Final and Final for Russia.  He’s also received a ton of praise from his junior coach, Patrick Roy, for his effort level and dedication.  If we’ve learned anything about Roy over the years, he’s not the type of coach who will give this praise easily or just to soothe his players egos, see his famous rant about Mikhail Stefanovich after a playoff game in which his team WON.

The thing that cannot be denied is that Grigorenko has the skill to be a franchise changing centre in the NHL.  However the question marks will be what will keep him out of the number 1 spot on draft day.  He will however be drafted very high, and the NHL team that takes him will be hoping that the concerns are overrated or that their development staff will be able to address those question marks, and help him become the elite player he has the potential to be.

…and that is the last word.