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Craig Button says “Russian Factor” only an issue “if you want to be blind, dumb and stupid”

Jun 16, 2012, 8:30 PM EDT

yakupovgetty Getty Images

Two of the top prospects in the upcoming 2012 NHL Entry Draft are Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko.

They were both born in Russia, but they decided to leave their homeland before they were even drafted so that they could play in the Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League respectively.

All the same, teams still seem to feel obligated to ask them if they plan to, at some point, leave North America and sign with a KHL club.

“All the teams asked me about this,” Grigorenko told “I understand why they’re concerned about this, but I told them I will not go there (to the KHL) for sure.”

Does the fact that he’s even being ask suggest that the “Russian Factor” still exist?

“Only if you want to be blind, dumb and stupid,” Craig Button said. “It would be one thing if you had this enormous talent pool (from Russia), but there’s not an enormous talent pool.”

The Edmonton Oilers might end up taking Nail Yakupov with the first overall pick, and if their head amateur scout, Stu MacGregor, is any indication, Yakupov’s origins won’t be a factor.

“The Russian Factor is nothing,” MacGregor said. “If a player is a good player, he’s a good player. Players are in the Czech league that remain in the Czech league, so you have to ask that question of anyone [in their draft year]. There are also times when players here in North American will wind up in the KHL. I think this whole Russian Factor is not a factor at all.”

For his part, Yakupov wants to play in the NHL and he doesn’t “know why you guys talk about (a) Russian Factor.”

  1. itsallniceonice - Jun 16, 2012 at 9:12 PM

    Hmm Craig Button says this? Move along kids nothing to see here.

  2. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jun 17, 2012 at 2:15 AM

    I’ve heard the knock on Yakupov is that he’s selfish and the knock on Grigorenko is he picks which games he shows up for. Forget bolting to the KHL, that sounds like a much more familiar “Russian Factor,” like the one we’ve seen with Kovalev and Semin. But apparently only the blind, dumb, and deaf should care about that….

    • sergeikremlin - Jun 17, 2012 at 11:54 AM

      Yakupov is a gamebreaker who is just as happy to set his teammates up as he is to score himself, evidenced by being the top assist man at the World Jr’s this year. The kid just competes to win in all areas of the ice.

      Grigorenko’s demeanor just bothers some scouts I think. Much like Joe Thornton, he makes it look easy when the points are racking it up and it looks like he isn’t trying when they aren’t going in. I think he’ll fit right in saucing it to elite NHL wingers.

  3. DTF31 - Jun 17, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    Didn’t he rank Grigorenko at like 20 on his draft list because of the Russian factor?

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