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NHL Draft Questions: How Do You Measure Work Ethic?

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When Doc says Grigorenko knifes through opposing defensemen, it's just a metaphor.
When Doc says Grigorenko knifes through opposing defensemen, it's just a metaphor.

It happens every year: A draft prospect with immense talent falls either in pre-draft rankings or down the actual draft day board thanks to ambiguous questions about "work ethic" or "character."

Often, people bring up names like Alexei Kovalev -- as if a Kovalev career is a bad thing. Still, while Kovalev got a bad rap for his unconventional wanderings and his "he'll beat the same defenseman three times," it's understandable if a team holding a precious top pick in the draft is hoping for talent and unquestionable drive.

But can they really know? This year's case is a big one: We're not just talking Kirill Kabanov falling out of the first round thanks to an assortment of stories; we're talking Mikhail Grigorenko, seen as the second-most talented or even 1A talent in the draft behind Nail Yakupov, possibly being passed over by multiple teams. (The Islanders official site has a Q&A with Grigorenko here.)

Last week we discussed Corey Pronman's great musing over how this Grigorenko perception evolved, and this week Kent Wilson takes a look at Grigorenko's production to see if there was any meaningful dropoff as the season went on (even putting aside the mono diagnosed after the playoffs).

So the question put to readers today is: Can you really measure work ethic in an 18-year-old? If so, what action on the ice -- or whispers from the halls -- are you looking for to assuage or worsen your fears? And would you sooner take a risk on questionable "work ethic" later in the draft -- or on contrary, is the top of the draft, where all-world skill is evident, the spot where you're willing to eat a few work ethic questions if it means you're getting a player who puts up a point per game against his peers?