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.

  • D

    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.

  • What I see past Yakupov and Galchenyuk is a draft class full of guys (especially defensemen) in the top 15 who look like they’ll be sure NHLers. The question seems to be how many of those 15 have the potential to be high-end players?

  • D

    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.

  • I’d rather see the Oilers “move heavan and earth” to get Yakupov and Galchenyuk.

    I like Murray, and so do the Oilers, but I think the holes on defense need to be — and will be — addressed through trade or free agency.

    Many people believe Murray can come in and play right now, and that’s impressive for a young defenseman, but there’s a big difference between being able to play and being an impact guy right away.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    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.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    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.

    • Quicksilver ballet

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


      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.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    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.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    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.

    • RexLibris

      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???

  • RexLibris

    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?