Is Grigorenko really a risk at #4?

Below is the beginning of an article by Brendan Ross from Each year scouts seem to pick one player in each draft class to pick apart and point out negative aspects to their game. Deserved or not, Mikhail Grigorenko is this years whipping boy. Last year it was Sean Couturier, the year before (although surprisingly still ranked very high on most draft charts) it was Cam Fowler. Jeff Skinner had his doubters as well.

Mikhail Grigorenko THW Close Up:

Date of Birth: May 16, 1994

Place of Birth: Khabarovsk, Russia

Ht: 6-3 Wt: 195 lbs

Shoots: Left

Position: Center

NHL Draft Eligibility: 2012 1st year eligible

THW Ranking (May): 4th

Russian pivot Grigorenko is an all-world talent that teams shouldn't pass over

Entering the 2012 NHL Entry Draft in a few weeks time, Grigorenko and his respective controversial rankings have become the biggest storyline of this draft class. After a strong start to his North American debut experiencing almost no transition period, the big pivot had become one of a few elite offensive players available in the draft, yet, recently the scouting world has been awfully critical of his play causing him to be dubbed a “faller”. As the year unfolded, it became easier to find anonymous quotes by scouts stating that they would “not touch Grigorenko” or “Mikhail is not worthy of a top 20 selection” or some other bold statement with a similar sour tone. In truth, based on pure upside, the Quebec Remparts’ high scoring freshman has arguably the highest offensive upside of any skater in this draft class.

The biggest knock against Grigorenko is that his work ethic is wildly inconsistent displaying bouts of poor effort often appearing invisible. However, Mikhail’s methodical puck possession style of play contributes to the illusion that he is not putting forth maximal effort. Much like Joe Thornton in San Jose, Grigorenko is a cerebral player that eludes elite vision, exhibits deft puck skills and has the ability to control the flow of the game.

Click here for the rest of that article, and links to other scouting reports below.

Scout’s Honour:

Grigorenko is a very special kind of talent who scouts have been hearing about for many years. He absolutely burst onto the scene last year with a tremendous performance at the Under-18s. He’s 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…he’s the kind of talent who NHL sources have described as the best guy on the ice while he’s going at 75%.

Corey Pronman – ESPN and Hockey Prospectus Draft Writer

With top-notch vision and hockey IQ, Grigorenko effectively fills the role of the playmaker as well, creating numerous opportunities for teammates. In terms of raw skill (and perhaps total offensive upside) there isn’t a purer selection than Grigorenko in 2012.

Bob Mand – Bruins’ Correspondent at THW and contributor

Grigorenko enjoyed a fine season, as he was the highest scoring rookie, showcasing his vastly superior offensive skill set. He also won a silver medal a the WJC, but his play and contributions were limited and did not help his overall draft stock. Grigorenko is a big player with underrated strength and can be difficult to move once he gets a head of steam. What separates him from other prospects is his ability to make sensational passes while looking off. He can gain additional real estate in the offensive zone due to his uncanny stickhandling ability, as his one-on-one moves and imagination with the puck are NHL-calibre already.

David Burstyn –McKeen’s Hockey Director of Scouting


The above article was so well detailed and well written that it saved me a lot of time trying to research and make myself sound like i know more than i do on the topic of Mikhail Grigorenko. We as fans only have so much to work with when trying to judge a draft eligible player.

Now the question is, is Mikhail Grigorenko a risk at the #4 pick? Please make note that this is only concerning where the Islanders are selecting at #4. The top forwards in the draft appear to be Yakupov, Galchenyuk, Forsberg and Grigorenko. I think its fair to remove Yakupov from the discussion immediately. For arguments sake, lets just talk forwards for right now. Now, i think it would be fair for one to argue that there can be some risk involved if the Bluejackets or Canadiens selected Grigorenko and left Galchenyuk and Forsberg on the board. Galchenyuk and Forsberg may not have the "boom" factor of Grigorenko, but they certainly have less question marks. If Yakupov, Galchenyuk and Forsberg go with the 1st 3 picks, one would expect that the Isles would be choosing between Grigorenko and Murray (speculation for the sake of this post). Now here's the debate:

When we hear "bust" how are we interpreting that? His biggest criticisms (only criticisms actually) are his work ethic, lack of physicality and the KHL factor. Without making excuses or confirming his skeptics lets bring up some players who would have similar question marks regarding his playing style. We will remove the KHL factor as he's shown enough willingness where he should alleviate most of that concern.

Alex Semin / Alex Kovalev - supremely skilled and talented players. Can score at will. Both criticized as having lackluster efforts throughout their careers.

Pierre Turgeon - supreme vision and puck skills. Simply just did not play the body or a physical brand of hockey.( Simply a physicality comparison and nothing else, the guy had one hell of a career)

Alexei Yashin - More of a sniper, big body down the middle. Excellent puck posession, often criticized for having "no heart". And hes Russian.

Ill also use Kopitar and Havlat which Brendan Ross pointed out who play a similar style to Grigorenko and were also criticized in the same way Grigorenko is being criticized now.

We can interpret these player examples (fair or not) however we would like. For the sake of this post i will use them as comparables. One would have to think that Grigorenko will not turn into Alexander Daigle or Patrick Stefan. If that were the case it could be used against any draft eligible player so I'll stick with the above examples for now. I think it would be fair to say that outside of the top 4 forwards mentioned above, there is a major drop off in talent. So the argument becomes, will it be considered a "bust" if the Islanders select Grigorenko at #4 and he winds up in the same mold as some of the aformentioned players? Grigorenko will not be asked to carry a franchise tag or carry the team at all for that matter. He can simply slide into the roster as another piece of the puzzle. Players of his talent level do not grow on trees and are very hard to obtain via trade or free agency. Multiple scouts have called him the most talented player in the draft.

There is the Ryan Murray debate. Who from most scouting reports is viewed as a "cant miss" prospect, but most likely will not wow you with offensive #'s or physical play. I tend to think Kenny Jonsson. (Scouts like to use Scott Neidermayer although less prolific). But what if he's really a Scott Lachance or Wade Redden? Regardless of how the Isles immediate "needs" are to be perceived, can the Isles afford to pass on a talent like Grigorenko who may turn out similar to a Kopitar or Thornton, but could also wind up a Yashin or Semin?

This is based all for arguments sake of the Isles having to make a choice between Grigorenko or Murray. Personally, after Yak i'd go Galchenyuk. After that as long as Garth doesn't go way off the board, i would not be completely upset if i heard, Forsberg, Murray, Grigorenko or Dumba called for the Isles. I'm starting to like Grigorenko as my 3rd choice though, but with only knowing so much about these kids, i will not walk away feeling empty if any of the other names are called. Whats your opinion?

<em>Submitted FanPosts do not necessarily reflect the views of this blog or SB Nation. If you're reading this statement, you pass the fine print legalese test. Four stars for you.</em>

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