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Top prospect Grigorenko is less top than he used to be

May 16, 2012, 6:49 PM EDT

Mikhail Grigorenko

According to this National Post article, it should be extremely interesting to see where Russian prospect Mikhail Grigorenko goes in this summer’s draft.

Once in the discussion for first overall pick, Grigorenko has fallen in most draft rankings, and plummeted in others.

The negative opinion seems to stem from Grigorenko’s recent performance in the Quebec league playoffs, where the Remparts blew a 3-0 series lead to the Halifax Mooseheads in the second round. Grigorenko finished the post-season with three goals and 10 points in 11 games, but some expressed disappointment in his effort level. He had a goal and an assist and was minus-5 in the final four games of the series.

There’s also concern Grigorenko could thumb his nose at the NHL and return to Russia to play in the KHL.

Of course, players have slipped in the rankings before and turned out just fine. Last year, Sean Couturier fell to sixth. In 2010, Cam Fowler dropped to No. 12. Safe to say the Flyers and Ducks were glad they did.

Perhaps an unsuspecting team will luck into Grigorenko.

Unless he’s a bust, in which case he’s been drafted by Minnesota.

  1. seanthegreatest - May 16, 2012 at 7:01 PM

    “Top prospect Grigorenko is less top than he used to be”

    Is that a gay joke?

  2. dumptrucked - May 16, 2012 at 7:11 PM

    Screw you, Fletcher has done an incredible job in Minnesota cleaning up the mess Douggie R left.

    • lordfletcher - May 16, 2012 at 8:31 PM

      I agree…. but I can see the humor in this joke (pre Fletcher)

      So far Fletcher has only drafted.

      Leddy (bad trade which he has admitted)

      The earliest choice in all of that was Granlund at #9, so maybe it’s time to pick on a new club to pick on! Oh and don’t forget the trade for Coyle

      Go Wild and Go Fletcher!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! stupid comment Jason Brough, unless your living in the past, past 10 years.

      • greatminnesotasportsmind - May 17, 2012 at 12:45 AM

        And I agree, pick on the GM who arguably has added the most prospects in his short time as GM than anyone in the NHL. Like stated has done this with the best pick of 9th overall.

    • challer9 - May 17, 2012 at 4:06 PM

      Damn, 18 thumbs up? I didn’t realize Minnesota had that many fans.

  3. bcisleman - May 16, 2012 at 7:37 PM

    Oy! Once more with feeling…OY!!! For those of you not knowing Yiddish, Oy is short for Oy vey! Oy vey is an exclamation of dismay or exasperation.

    We are told that Grigo has plummeted in “others”. To my knowledge and according to the referenced article, Craig Button’s list is the only one where Grigo has fallen more than one spot. So either we are inventing a new meaning for the word plummet of the s in other doesn’t not imply multiple draft mocks.

    Apart from that, we are given two mocks. One of them has Grigo going from 7th to 8th and the other from 3rd to 4th. For those of you needing extra math help, that’s one space apiece!!!!!!

    Also, what the Post article mentions but Jason does not and that I knew is that Grigo has been diagnosed with mono. That is at least a part of the reason he did so poorly in the playoffs.

    This online compilation does not seem to suggest that Grigo’s stock is falling across the board at all.

  4. Jason Brough - May 16, 2012 at 9:05 PM

    Red Line had him at No. 3 in March. Then he went to No. 7 in April. Now he’s No. 8. That’s a pretty steep drop over two months. No matter what the Bleacher Report guys you linked to say.

    • lordfletcher - May 16, 2012 at 9:46 PM


      I can’t imagine him falling past Burke, unless Murray somehow fell to him as well. Burke needs a center, badly. Worth the risk at #5, unless GM’s feel he might go back home for a bigger pay day (which is very possible)

      • bcisleman - May 16, 2012 at 11:45 PM

        I doubt he goes past MTL.

    • bcisleman - May 16, 2012 at 11:44 PM

      If you bothered to look at that list…and its a long one…most of the sources on it are NOT BR pieces!!! Red Line is ONE source and has been a controversial one in recent years. There are a number of well respected analysts on that list who have kept Grigo in their top 5. So you have two sources, Button and Red Line vs pretty much every other respected analyst all of whom have Grigo as a top 5 pick. Is it possible Button and Red Line are right? Sure, but they do not represent anything close to a consensus regarding Grigo.

      • Jason Brough - May 17, 2012 at 12:34 AM

        Well, if we’re using the entire list, most of them haven’t been updated since before the playoffs. Button’s is one of the more recent updates and he still had him at No. 3 at the time. Anyway, the point is, John Tavares is a great player. Right?

      • bcisleman - May 17, 2012 at 1:57 PM

        He is, but, no, that wasn’t the point. Although Red Line was notorious for suggesting that Duchene should go #1 in 2009 and this year has Andrei Vasilevski, a goalie, at #10.

        I love Vas. He was great at the WJCs and I’d love to see him put on an Islander ballcap in June. But its bizarre to include a goalie in your top ten and I don’t recall anyone else having him lower than the 20s. Some don’t have him in the first round at all. Point is that Red Line is not a good barometer for the consensus…or even common sense sometimes.

        Here are a couple of interesting perspectives on Grigo:

        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%.

        Ranking Explanation: Grigorenko is a better puck handler, and a much better thinker while Galchenyuk is a better skater, with a better physical game and intangibles. Outside of the difference in hockey sense—where Galchenyuk is high end—I don’t see a massive gap that could really tilt the scales in any of those differences. They are both great players, but Grigorenko has top 15-20 forward in the league upside, whereas Galchenyuk’s upside is an above-average first-line center, which in itself is tremendous, but it isn’t Grigorenko.

        Grigorenko’s intangibles I understand create concerns, as I’ve addressed above. I’m not promoting the fact Grigorenko goes 100%, but in a neutral environment, if you take his talent level + effort = output, over the long run, he gives enough effort level to project to deliver elite level output.

        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.

  5. hiltonandastoria - May 16, 2012 at 9:49 PM

    Nathan MacKinnon of the Moose was the best player on the ice during their series. It was obvious that next years 1st overall selection and future saviour of the Blue Jackets at 16 years old was much better than the 18 year old.

    That’s gotta hurt no matter how great Nathan MacKinnon is out there.

    Start talking about him now JB, be ahead of the curve.

  6. greatminnesotasportsmind - May 17, 2012 at 12:43 AM

    I hope he does fall all the way to Minnesota at 7. With all the prospects lordfletcher pointed out, he’s the kind of guy the Wild can take a chance on. They are loaded with outstanding prospects, and if you can add someone who has the upside of the 2nd overall pick to what we have now (Heatley, Seto, and Koivu) with what is coming (Granlund, Coyle, Zucker, and Bulmer), and free agent (either Suter and/or Parise) what do you have to lose?

    • lordfletcher - May 17, 2012 at 3:42 PM

      I would love it if he fell to MN but I still don’t think Fletcher would draft him if Reinhart is still on the board… It would be very likely that the Wild would trade down with a team whom coveted Grigorenko. I think a team like Carolina or Buffalo would be willing to make a deal. Buffalo has plenty of pics and the Wild would really like to draft a defensemen if possible, but will go best available which most defensemen are in the range of 6-12…

  7. craigkeller - May 17, 2012 at 10:48 AM

    Since he’s likely to be a bust, the Habs will definitely pick him :/

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