Greet Quebec Remparts center Mikhail Grigorenko. He fits the stereotypical enigmatic Russian profile. He's skilled, has produced at a high level in North America, scouts question his work ethic, and NHL teams are afraid he will go to the KHL so his draft stock is slipping. He also is currently suffering from mono.
Center / Quebec Remparts/ QMJHL
May 16 1994
Hometown: Khabarovsk - Russia
|2010-11 CSKA-Krasnaja Armija Moskva
|2011-12 Quebec Remparts
|2011-12 - Russia U20
Final CSS North American Rank: 3rd
Craig Button: 20th (wut?)
Hockey Prospectus: 2nd
NHL.com consensus: 3rd
What do they say about them?
Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus: (Yes, this is long. But it's worth every second you spend reading it.)
Grigorenko is a very special kind of talent who scouts have been hearing about for many years. He absolutely burst onto the scene last year with a tremendous performance at the Under-18s. He's an exceptionally gifted player who can control the flow of a hockey game seemingly at will with elite puck skills, vision, offensive creativity, and overall hockey sense. He makes high level dekes seem effortless and is the kind of player who is able to slow the game down to his pace rather than try to keep up with it. His ability as a playmaker is really special as he is the classic "eyes in the back of his head" type of player who consistently makes high-level reads quickly and effectively. Grigorenko's hand skills allow him to keep the puck away from pursuers very well and when he's setting up in open ice, the chances of a defender being able to cleanly check him is low. When you combine his puck skills and sense, though, you get the combination of tools that allow him to make "unique" plays, that after they happen, you try to remember about the last time you saw a play similar to that. He is an above-average skater who industry sources have described with the kind of stride that looks like he's floating on the ice as he effortlessly picks up speed— especially for a bigger player. Grigorenko also has a pretty decent array of shots and is certainly an above-average finisher. He is an advanced two-way thinker who gets the job done at a decent level in his own end, and while he struggled with that aspect of his game earlier in the year, he was much better later on. He has above-average size, and while he doesn't really use his frame as much as he could, he's decent in the physical aspects of hockey as he boxes out fine along the wall and will win some battles. His work ethic draws issues at times but he's not an extremely lazy player, though he's not one who gives it 100% every shift. He's also the kind of player who likes to slow the game down, so some observers perceive that as questionable work ethic. However, he's the kind of talent who NHL sources have described as the best guy on the ice while he's going at 75%.
A big man in the pivot position, Grigorenko is still adjusting to the North American game. Offensively, he displays great patience with the puck and the ability to find open ice or feed a pass to an open man. Although he has been criticized for his consistency and intensity, Grigorenko played through a handful of injuries during the year and his talent level is undeniable. A smooth skater with great hands, he made strides during the season to play a more all-around game.
Grigorenko is a special talent. His work ethic is questioned, but name more than one Russian in the past ten years who hasn't come to North America with work ethic question marks. The reports of Grigorenko working on his two way game as the season wore on seem to suggest a young player willing to take the necessary steps to be an elite NHLer. Any team that is comfortable with his makeup, or is comfortable enough with his makeup to gamble on his talent, has a potential superstar in Grigorenko.
There is an outside chance that his stock has slipped to the point that the Stars might be in a position where trading up to select Grigorenko wouldn't be cost prohibitive. Whether or not they'd be interested is another discussion entirely. If they are comfortable with the price and his character who knows? The concerns about the KHL seem overblown given that he's already playing in North America.