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.


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.


– 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."


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.

  • justDOit

    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.

  • justDOit

    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.

  • “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.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    @ 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.

  • The Soup Fascist


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

    …. and cue the rant . . .

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    @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.

    • Bucknuck

      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.

  • Bucknuck

    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.

  • Mitch

    With all the trade Gagner talk, why not send him, another player and a pick for pittsburghs Staal? U still draft Yakpov, have genuine 2nd line centre to play behind RNH. Thoughts?