Some of the very best men to wear an Oilers uniform have come to our city from the Quebec League. The first pick in Oilers NHL history (Kevin Lowe), high flying Ales Hemsky and the legendary Georges Laraque were all drafted from the QMJHL. Edmonton clearly has a Q player on their radar this season, too.
Mikhail Grigorenko plays for the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL and has been touted as one of the very best players available in this year’s draft. Proof? Look no further than the Edmonton Oilers invite list: Grigorenko is in Edmonton tonight for a visit with the Oilers brass (tomorrow) and to take a tour similar to the one Nail Yakupov took earlier this week.
Oiler fans know well that the Oilers do everything for a reason, so Yakupov’s early visit suggests he is the front runner. Still, a big, strong and skilled center like Mikhail Grigorenko would look very good in an Oilers lineup.
- Corey Pronman: “He’s (Grigorenko) 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.”
THE OILERS AND THE Q
Since Stu MacGregor took over as scouting director in time for the 2008 draft, Edmonton has shopped heavily in the CHL Fully half of the MBS picks since 2008 have come from the Canadian juniors. However, the QMJHL represents only 3 of 16 CHL selections and none of them were at featured points in the draft:
- D Jeremie Blain, 91st overall in 2010
- G Olivier Roy, 133rd overall in 2009
- L Phil Cornet, 133rd overall in 2008
Although these are picks outside the impact area of the draft, boy Roy and Cornet earned pro contracts and Cornet has played at the NHL level. Roy is progressing very nicely and could end up being an exceptional value for Edmonton.
A quick note: The television series Oil Change had a really nice segment about amateur scout Bill Dandy and his first draft with the Oilers. The story is here, but I’d suggest watching it, that story is probably a big reason why a guy like Bill Dandy works so hard in what must be a tough job many nights.
POSSIBLE Q TARGETS
- Martin Frk: Skill winger with a good shot and some grit. Frk is 6.0, 198 with the downside being foot speed. He has what Kirk Luedeke described as a "thick body and a lot of natural strength" a year ago. He doesn’t really sound like an Oiler pick–speed being an issue–but the club is no doubt looking for some grit and Frk has enough skill to project as an actual player. Lost playing time with a serious concussion early in the season, another down arrow.
- Dillon Fournier: Defender with plenty of offense should get a lot of interest at the draft. Plus skater and puck mover, he had some shoulder problems this season. LH, but Corey Pronman saw him playing right side which is a small plus arrow. He seems to have some chaos in his game, but I haven’t read anything that makes me believe he’s the second coming of Marc-Andre Bergeron.
- Thomas Hyka: Small winger is a speed burner and an interesting skill player. Scored 64 points in 50 games this past season and had an NHL team interested in him before the year began. The Oilers have drafted some smaller forwards during the MBS era (Cornet, Rieder) but this fellow is really small.
- Francis Beauvillier: Interesting player, I’ve adopted him as a player to follow at the draft. He’s a stringbean and doesn’t appear to be a feature player, but he scored 16 even-strength goals in 67 games (tied for 2nd on the team). He’s a terrific skater and apparently played quite a bit on the PK. Might be worth a later selection.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The Oilers can’t exactly shout their entire draft list from the rooftops, but Mikhail Grigorenko is clearly a player of interest at the top of the draft. The last time the Oilers plucked a Q player in round one, it was Marc Pouliot in 2003. Grigorenko is obviously on a different level, and could be a major addition to the Oilers already ridiculous group of young skill forwards.
PREVIOUSLY IN THE SERIES
- TITANIC (Intro, April 6)
- OILERS WIN (Oilers scouts, Oilers draft trends, April 10)
- MATH SPEAKS OUT (NHLE’S, April 12)
- COMPLETING THE FAB FOUR (Murray versus Nail, April 23)
- FIRST BLUSH 2012 (Initial top 10 list, May 2)
- COMBINE LIST RELEASED (Invites, May 4)
- THE OILERS, THE DUB AND THE FUTURE (possible Oilers from the WHL, May 8)
- THEY COME FROM THE LAND OF ICE AND SNOW (possible Oilers from Swe/Fin, May 12)
- THE COMBINE (injuries, combine and its impact, May 24)
- THE TOUCH LIST (obscure picks who may surprise, May 27)
- THE BIG O (possible Oilers from the WHL, May 30)
Up next: The 30 best players in the 2012 draft.