FTHM I: MIKHAIL GRIGORENKO

Robin Brownlee
June 18 2012 01:58PM

What readers and writers at Oilersnation think makes for great debate when it comes to the Edmonton Oilers, but there's nothing like actually hearing from somebody in the know. That's why our 2011 series From The Horse's Mouth with Oilers chief Stu MacGregor drew such great response last June.

Some of you asked for a 2012 FTHM between now and when the Oilers are scheduled to pick first in Pittsburgh, so I'm going to re-visit the series with snippets about the five players I think the Oilers are most likely to use the first overall pick on. More important, we'll get MacGregor's take on each of them.

While the overwhelming consensus is the Oilers will follow up the selections of Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins by taking forward Nail Yakupov of the Sarnia Sting, and that's the safe bet, that makes for a short series, so I went five deep with MacGregor – starting today with Mikhail Grigorenko.

MacGregor, it's no surprise, didn't share the list compiled by he and his scouting staff leading into the draft, so I'll be running the items based on the order of my choosing. I've included information from the NHL's media site, including comments from the NHL's Central Scouting Service.

THE SKINNY FROM CSS

In his first season with the Quebec Remparts, Grigorenko led all Quebec Major Junior Hockey League rookies with 45 goals and 85 points (40-45--85) and finished third in the league with eight game-winning goals.

Grigorenko represented Russia at the 2012 World Junior Championships, recording five points (2-3--5) in six games, helping Russia capture a silver medal. As a member of Team Russia at the 2011 World Under-18 Championships, he led his team to a bronze medal, leading the tournament with 14 assists (4-14--18) in seven games.

In 2010-11, Grigorenko collected 35 points (17-18--35) in 43 games while playing for CSKA-2 where he competed against players as old as 22. He was selected second overall in the 2011 CHL Import Draft -- the Remparts traded up twice to secure him.

WHAT THEY SAY

- NHL Central Scouting’s David Gregory

"He's the type of player that controls the whole pace of the game. He can play with the puck at the same pace he plays without the puck. He sees the ice and opportunities really well.

"He can hang onto it longer than most players; some players might feel that they have to move it quickly, but Mikhail has the patience and the ability to see opportunities and let them develop, which is a special skill. He's got a big, long reach and an ability to move in traffic with his size (6-foot-3.25, 200). He's the kind of forward who will control the play and make things happen."

MACGREGOR'S TAKE

Scouting Report: "A big center who's a great skater. He has exceptional hockey skills and vision."

Projection: "Depending on what team he's on, he'll be a No. 1 or No. 2 center."

Weaknesses: "He needs to get physically bigger, to fill out. He needs to learn to play a 200-foot game and he needs to develop that consistent shift-to-shift game. He has to maintain a higher level of play shift-to-shift."

NHL Comparable: "I think he's like an Eric Staal."

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 D
June 18 2012, 02:00PM
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RB, Do you feel that this draft year is comparatively weak? Maybe the fan base is just burned out after two previous top picks, but I get the sense that the excitement is just not there as much this year.

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#3 D
June 18 2012, 02:09PM
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That would sound something along the lines of the 1994 draft I guess?

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#4 Team Hall
June 18 2012, 02:14PM
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Great article Robin. Btw, you kind of look like Jack Nicholson in your photo, never a bad thing. Anyways, what I would love to see happen in this draft is for the Oil to take Yak at #1 and then move heaven and earth to get the #2 as well from Columbus and grab Murray. Does that not set us up, with the addition of another top 4dman in free agency?

Maybe Gags, #32 overall, and MP? Does that get it done? It would be worth it for us. Or, sub Hemmer in there for one of those instead.

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#6 Quicksilver ballet
June 18 2012, 02:21PM
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Yakupov,Grigorenko,Galchenyuk,Forsberg,Murray, they would all look exceptional in an Oiler jersey.

Time to make some tough decisions on the many underperforming veterans or prospects in the system Steve. Another opportunity presents itself. Grab two Steve, any two. Stop assessing and make some decisions.

If you never give up, the dream can live for evaa.

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#7 Curious
June 18 2012, 02:34PM
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We all know getting 2 top 5 picks is not going to happen. But like Brownlee said there are a solid group of Defensemen to choose from in the top 15.

Target the Capitals #12 pick - if there is a player who drops out of the top 10 that you want to take a chance on - do it. The Capitals want offensive help now and it looks like if Nail is choosen first we have a logjam in the top 6 anyway. Give up something good to get something better.

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#8 Quicksilver ballet
June 18 2012, 02:38PM
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If any of you guys are wondering who's in the first image provided. It's an early 80's picture of Gary Rissling from the Pittsburgh Penguins, without his store bought teeth of course. Gary had a game face only a mother could love.

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#9 Dman09
June 18 2012, 02:50PM
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@Curious

What logjam????? by my count with hemsky returning to form and selecting Yak I still think the top 6 is missing a player.

RB,

I agree with you not to take Murray. The Oilers already have the future setup on defense and all that remains is time. If the team wants to start winning then they need to find NHL defense that can play now and not after 2-3 years of development. I still think you could possibly get a top 5 with a top 4 defensman by trading Gags, MPS, Omark(rights),Peckham(rights)+ later pick.

Now if you add Yakupov and Galchenyuk/Gregorienko to a top six of Hall,Eberle,RNH and Hemsky thats starting to look pretty damn good.

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#10 @NateInVegas
June 18 2012, 02:59PM
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Position, Size, DOB, Good 5-5 numbers, Good on draws, as skilled as anyone in the draft.

If Grigorenko's the Oilers 2nd line Centre they'll improve a lot quicker than if it's Sam Gagner...

If the gap between Yakupov and Grigorenko is less than 20 points you have to take the Centre.

http://sarahjessicaparkerlookslikeahorse.com/

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#11 Curious
June 18 2012, 03:04PM
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logjam probably isnt a good term. Im thinking that there is more players on the Oilers that need to play in the top 6 to be effective then being in a bottom 6 role. Honestly I dont see Paajarvi being suited to play on the 3rd line if he is going to be successful. I guess you leave him in the minors another year then. I am speaking more to the point that we have to many similar players and to get better, maybe one or more of the top players need to go. The Oilers are too one dimensional.

I have Yak, Eberle, RHN, Hall, Hemsky and Gagner as the top 6. Right or wrong that is what it is. Is that top 6 good enough - right now no. If you believe Paajarvi is ready then you move one of the above to make room for him so you can develop him or if he is best served in the minors, then fine leave him there. Bringing him up here to play 3rd line with Horcoff and Smyth isnt going to do him any good. I know you still have to resign Smyth but I think there is a good chance it will happen.

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#12 RexLibris
June 18 2012, 03:07PM
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I'm with Gregor and, I think, Robin in that if the Oilers took Galchenyuk I'd be okay with that.

I'm not even considering taking Murray as I believe that the organization is holding true to the idea that they will add offensive talent first, and acquire defense gradually. Drafting Yakupov and developing him into a potential 40 or even 50-goal scorer allows the team to deal from a greater position of strength three years from now, if the need arises.

As for getting another top-five pick, I think that is virtually impossible this year, outside of Columbus dealing Nash to Toronto.

That being said, I think Gregor recently wrote that the Carolina picka and Washington's second 1st round pick (16th) might be good targets for the Oilers if a player starts to fall.

Personally, I would love to see them move Paajarvi and perhaps Hamilton for the Carolina pick if it meant they could add either Reinhart or Reilly.

What are we going to do with ourselves on June 24th?

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#13 Curious
June 18 2012, 03:11PM
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And for the record, if I could get the Capitals #11 pick and a 3rd rounder for Gagner or Hemsky and my second round pick, I would do it.

One of Dumba, Pouliot, Trouba, Maatta, Reinhart, Ceci, Reilly or Finn are going to be there at 11. Sure they arent going to play next year but down the line they will be ready and there are a few names in that list that could be the first pairing defensemen you are looking for in a few years down the road.

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#14 Dman09
June 18 2012, 03:21PM
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Curious wrote:

logjam probably isnt a good term. Im thinking that there is more players on the Oilers that need to play in the top 6 to be effective then being in a bottom 6 role. Honestly I dont see Paajarvi being suited to play on the 3rd line if he is going to be successful. I guess you leave him in the minors another year then. I am speaking more to the point that we have to many similar players and to get better, maybe one or more of the top players need to go. The Oilers are too one dimensional.

I have Yak, Eberle, RHN, Hall, Hemsky and Gagner as the top 6. Right or wrong that is what it is. Is that top 6 good enough - right now no. If you believe Paajarvi is ready then you move one of the above to make room for him so you can develop him or if he is best served in the minors, then fine leave him there. Bringing him up here to play 3rd line with Horcoff and Smyth isnt going to do him any good. I know you still have to resign Smyth but I think there is a good chance it will happen.

I get what your saying. I think that on this team Gags can't be your 2nd line center when you already have RNH if you want to be a contender. I also don't think Smyth is what this team needs right now. MPS still didn't put up great numbers in OKC during the season, I still think he needs to prove he belongs in the NHL. Harti is in the same situation.

Someone was saying that Belanger wants out of Edm and wants to go to mtl, anyone know if there is any truth to this???

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#15 EL PRESIDENTE
June 18 2012, 03:25PM
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For the FISTeenth time, DRaft the Yak and don't look back!

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#16 EL PRESIDENTE
June 18 2012, 03:27PM
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Nooo... Please Mr. Brownlee.. I promise that'll be the Fist and Last time.. please don't hit me anymore...

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#17 Cody anderson
June 18 2012, 03:48PM
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I don't even consider trading Gagner unless we have a reaplcement for him. He is a competent 2nd line centre that still has lots of potential for improvement.

I agree you can't teach size and would love the look of a second line consisting of; Hall-Galchenyuk-Yakupov.

If we trage Gagner for a dman we are simply creating more roster holes. Especially if that Dman can't play next year.

If we select Yakupov first overall and Galchenyuk was still available at whatever pick we are trying to acquire I would then offer Hemsky and Gagner for that pick. Otherwise keep Gagner out of trade talk and look at moving Hemsky and picks or sapre parts.

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#18 bob is your dad
June 18 2012, 03:52PM
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@Robin Brownlee

Much Agreed. I keep hearing that the Hurricanes are interested in moving that 8th pick. Do you think that Mikhail Grigorenko would be the pick if he fell and was there at 8?

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#20 Dman09
June 18 2012, 04:06PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

I don't see Grigorenko being available at 8th

And every team is willing to move the fill-in-the-blank pick IF the return is right.

The "TEAM X" would be willing to move the pick is second only to "TEAM Y" will try to move up/down story as a staple for writers going into the draft.

Apparently one of the writers in Carolina said they would trade the 8th overall straight up for Gagner. If Grigor is still available then I would think you have to make that move.

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#22 Quicksilver ballet
June 18 2012, 04:35PM
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Rueben, does the Bronte 5000 respond with a thumbs up or down at the thought of Evander Kane moving west?

Less than ideal teammate?

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#23 Cody anderson
June 18 2012, 04:41PM
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Would you want Grigorenko over Gagner?

Obviously he is big, tough, skilled and willing to play through illness and injury. Those are all huge positives.

The one negative is also huge though. Laziness, lack of effort, lack of commitment are some of the hardest character traits to change. I am leary of him, and would probably look to pick a Dman with less questions over him.

With all the potential, I would have to think long and hard as it would be hard not to pull the trigger.

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#24 Dman09
June 18 2012, 04:45PM
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Cody anderson wrote:

Would you want Grigorenko over Gagner?

Obviously he is big, tough, skilled and willing to play through illness and injury. Those are all huge positives.

The one negative is also huge though. Laziness, lack of effort, lack of commitment are some of the hardest character traits to change. I am leary of him, and would probably look to pick a Dman with less questions over him.

With all the potential, I would have to think long and hard as it would be hard not to pull the trigger.

Ya because LA didn't win the cup because they have a lazy, effortless Penner on their team.

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#25 Dman09
June 18 2012, 04:48PM
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@Robin Brownlee

One of Bob's guests on Oilers Now this afternoon said that 100% Carolina's #8 is in play if there is a deal to be made and he also said that one of the centers they have the most interest in and think very highly of is Gagner. So the pieces are there but as to what happens is anybodys guess.

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#26 Dman09
June 18 2012, 04:51PM
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Also of note the exact same things were being said about Sean Couturier last year and he dropped to #8.

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#27 Smokey
June 18 2012, 04:54PM
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Would MPS and a fourth get you Carolina's 8th?

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#28 Cody anderson
June 18 2012, 04:58PM
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I would probably still do this deal, but it wouldn't be a slam dunk for me. If it were Galchenyuk, it would be done in a heart beat. Would even throw in another pick.

Penner got hot at the right time for them. If we were fighting to make the playoffs Penner would have probably kept us from making it with his regular season performance last year.

Nobody argues that either player when on is great. Not being able to count on the effort says a lot. Right now the Oilers are in a fragile state where the rookies are going balls out and way too many vets are not.

I would be looking to add pieces with the right work ethic as I believe both types of work ethic can rub off on other players.

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#29 Dman09
June 18 2012, 05:07PM
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Cody anderson wrote:

I would probably still do this deal, but it wouldn't be a slam dunk for me. If it were Galchenyuk, it would be done in a heart beat. Would even throw in another pick.

Penner got hot at the right time for them. If we were fighting to make the playoffs Penner would have probably kept us from making it with his regular season performance last year.

Nobody argues that either player when on is great. Not being able to count on the effort says a lot. Right now the Oilers are in a fragile state where the rookies are going balls out and way too many vets are not.

I would be looking to add pieces with the right work ethic as I believe both types of work ethic can rub off on other players.

Ya but just imagine if Hall and Nail's work ethic rubbed off on Gregor, he would be a beast.

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#30 Cody anderson
June 18 2012, 05:09PM
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Of course!!!!!!!!!

Just hard to pick based on the best case scenario.

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#32 Fresh Mess
June 18 2012, 07:08PM
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@ Brownlee #31,

good point. add Bonbon-signore to your list.

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#33 RexLibris
June 18 2012, 07:59PM
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@Fresh Mess

Bonsignore was a 4th overall.

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#34 Mitch
June 18 2012, 08:07PM
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Robin I can see the Oilers ending up with Yakupov and Grigorenko or one the dmen just not sure which dman.

Something tells me Stu likes Grigorenko.

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#36 Oiler AL
June 18 2012, 09:14PM
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If you are playing the #8 Carolina card, with hope of picking up Gregorenko, forget it, he will be gone by # 5 the latest. You could get a decent defense man at #8. If Carolina are wanting to move that pick, it tells me they are in a " hurry up" turn around of their roster, wanting to make a play for the play offs and on next year.Staal/Pittsburgh rumor still circulates. Not every team is on 6 year rebuild like the Oilers.

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#37 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
June 18 2012, 10:03PM
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Last 8th overall pick that has proven to be a superior player to Gagner was in the 08 draft.

Trading proven players for picks outside the top 2-3 is a sucker game.

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#38 justDOit
June 18 2012, 11:20PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Last 8th overall pick that has proven to be a superior player to Gagner was in the 08 draft.

Trading proven players for picks outside the top 2-3 is a sucker game.

Well it's still early in his career, but I'd rather have Couturier (8th overall in '11) than Gagner - and I'm not a Gags basher.

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#39 AutoOiler
June 19 2012, 03:24AM
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Trading Hemsky and/or Gagner for magic beans will not speed this rebuild up. The 3 kids are going to get better this year. Sam Gagner is one of the hardest working oilers ,he has improved his face-offs, IMHO his defensive play has improved. Hemsky had a bad year. Had to play the tough Minutes. Was stuck with Horcoff A Lot. This year the vetline shouldn't have to do all the heavy lifting. Gagner and Hall did much of it last year. Things are improving.

No gentleman I would prefer to let our own "magic beans" sprout then trade them for newer beans. that we will have wait to start doing the little things.

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#40 Autooiler
June 19 2012, 04:26AM
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I hope the Oilers pick FRK in the second round. I think he's a sleeper because of his concussion and not participating in the World juniors. He has some size and goes to the net. If he is available at 32 I'll be surprised.

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#41 Fresh Mess
June 19 2012, 06:05AM
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@RexLibris,

He dropped from being the surefire consensus number #1 because of work ethic concerns. Oilers scooped him at #4 and he was a bust.

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#43 The Soup Fascist
June 19 2012, 07:35AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

"He dropped from being the surefire consensus number #1 because of work ethic concerns. Oilers scooped him at #4 and he was a bust."

Link please. My memory must fail me. I don't remember Bonsignore ever being ranked the "surefire" No. 1. Most scouting bureaus had Ed Jovanovski or Radek Bonk rated 1-2.

What I remember is Bonsignore being limited to less than 60 games in his draft year with Newmarket and Niagara Falls. What I remember is Bonsignore coming to a lousy Oilers team and struggling with the transition.

... And his own junior linemate, Ethan Moreau saying he had a heart the size of a pea ...

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#44 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
June 19 2012, 08:18AM
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@ justDOit

Of course, because Couturier is still the nice shinny new toy.

But ya, Couturier will likely be a solid player... that's a bit of an annomoly though, a guy that was rated number 1 for what? 15 months? drops to 8.

Go back through the last 25 years, I bet you can't find 5 guys that are proven, hands down better then Gagner.

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#45 The Soup Fascist
June 19 2012, 08:37AM
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@OB1

If you listen carefully you can hear DSF's fingers furiously manipulating his keyboard through hockeydb.com as we speak.

.... and cue the rant . . .

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#46 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
June 19 2012, 08:42AM
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@ The Soup Fascist

He's too busy putting up posters of Tallon, Lombardi, Wellwood, Seguin and Skinner.

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#47 Fresh Mess
June 19 2012, 09:21AM
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@Brownlee #42,

I didn't even own a computer in 1993-94, so a link isn't going to happen lol,

What I remember is that Bonsignore was being mentioned as a strong candidate for #1 previous to his draft year. I even remember Bob Mckenzie mentioning him on Sportsdesk as being the leading candidate for the next years draft.

It wasn't until the season of his actual draft year that talk started turning to concerns with his work ethic. As his draft season progressed he started sliding. The Oilers couldn't resist his size and skill and plucked him.

I'm only a few years older than Bonsignore, so I was pretty much a kid myself at the time and maybe my memory has failed me. I may have overstated it by referring to him as surefire, but he was definitely trending towards #1 at one time.

My original point was that I agreed with what you were saying about gambling on a sliding prospect. For every Couturier, there are several examples of "catching a falling knife" like Bonsingore.

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#48 The Soup Fascist
June 19 2012, 09:59AM
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Pretty sure I am playing against Angelo Esposito in a beer league game next week.

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#49 Bucknuck
June 19 2012, 12:06PM
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These Gagner for the number 8 pick rumours scare me. Unless Galchenyuk is available at #8 I wouldn't do it. The Oilers need a second line centre and if they trade Gagner, guess who slots into that role? Horcoff.

I like Horcoff as an Oiler and love what he brings every night and hate the fact he gets no appreciation from the fan base as a whole because of that stupid contract, but even I don't think he is a top six player anymore, and I used to get in internet scraps suggesting he was a #1 (in 2008-9).

Everyone who wants to trade Gagner thinks Horcoff should be traded for a bag of pucks. Those clowns would have us with Lander facing off against Getzlaf, and Belanger trying to contain Sedin on a nightly basis. Crazy.

You don't trade Gagner, UNLESS you have a proven second line centre coming in. It makes no sense.

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#50 Digger
June 19 2012, 01:28PM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

@Brownlee #42,

I didn't even own a computer in 1993-94, so a link isn't going to happen lol,

What I remember is that Bonsignore was being mentioned as a strong candidate for #1 previous to his draft year. I even remember Bob Mckenzie mentioning him on Sportsdesk as being the leading candidate for the next years draft.

It wasn't until the season of his actual draft year that talk started turning to concerns with his work ethic. As his draft season progressed he started sliding. The Oilers couldn't resist his size and skill and plucked him.

I'm only a few years older than Bonsignore, so I was pretty much a kid myself at the time and maybe my memory has failed me. I may have overstated it by referring to him as surefire, but he was definitely trending towards #1 at one time.

My original point was that I agreed with what you were saying about gambling on a sliding prospect. For every Couturier, there are several examples of "catching a falling knife" like Bonsingore.

I remember the same...as a 16 year old, Bonsignore was most definitely one of the names being bandied about as a potential 1st overall choice for the '94 draft. Scouts were in love with his size, smooth skating and individual skills.

Unfortunately, they forgot to investigate if he actually liked playing hockey.

As to your point, here's another cautionary tale: Michael Henrich.

He was a guy that was rated around 6 or 7 in the Hockey News draft preview, and IIRC was supposed to be a lock to go in the top 10 after getting 40 goals in the OHL as a 17 year old. He fell to the Oilers at 13th overall amid rumblings that his attitude and work ethic weren't the best, who gladly picked him up.

He never played a single game in the NHL, and has been splitting time between Germany and Italy over the past 6 years. One of the worst 1st first round failures ever by the Oilers.

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