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2012 NHL Draft

Grigorenko Eager To Prove His Doubters Wrong

Wednesday, 05.30.2012 / 5:14 PM / 2012 NHL Draft
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Grigorenko Eager To Prove His Doubters Wrong
A sub-par performance in the postseason has hurt Mikharil Grigorenko in the rankings, but he thinks he can be the gem of the 2012 draft class.
Remparts forward Mikhail Grigorenko posted 85 points in 59 games to finish ranked third overall among North American skaters by Central Scouting.

Mikhail Grigorenko has seen his name slipping on the various draft rankings, he's heard the criticism lobbed in his direction and he's not the least bit surprised.

No, after a subpar performance in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs for the Quebec Remparts -- one where he produced just three points in a seven-game loss to the Halifax Mooseheads in the second round -- Grigorenko says the criticism and fading draft hype was to be expected.

"I was waiting for this," Grigorenko, 18, said after being named the Canadian Hockey League's BMO Rookie of the Year. "Before the (final) ratings I understood where I would be because during the season I had good games and I was first or second, but after I had a bad playoffs and I went down."

His coach in Quebec City, Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy, was proud of the recognition given to Grigorenko's first season of hockey on North American soil.

"This is a well-deserved award for a hard-working athlete," Roy said in a statement. "Mikhail Grigorenko is an impactful player with a grade-A attitude. The Remparts organization is quite proud of his accomplishment."

The big, skilled Russian center has not been getting the same kind of recognition from scouts of late. He slipped from second to third among North American skaters on the final NHL Central Scouting Bureau ranking list, but some of the other major scouting services have downgraded Grigorenko even further.

Grigorenko's three points in the second round of the playoffs represented his worst seven-game stretch all season. While he readily admits his production was insufficient in that loss to the Mooseheads -- one in which the Remparts blew a 3-0 series lead and a 3-1 second period lead in Game 7 -- Grigorenko did indeed have a reason he was kept completely off the scoresheet over the final two games.

He was later diagnosed with a case of mononucleosis, and the initial symptoms began appearing before Game 6.

"The last two games I had fever during the night, I couldn't sleep," Grigorenko explained. "It wasn't mono, but it started there, I think."

Grigorenko said he is fully recovered from the illness, one that prevented him from eating regularly, and thus resulted in significant weight loss. He will be attending the NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto this week but won't be participating in any of the physical testing because he has not yet been cleared to begin training. But the combine will afford Grigorenko an opportunity to meet with the clubs and defend himself from some of the criticism he's been receiving, and also assure them of his intentions to play in the NHL.

"I know a lot of people think with the Russian factor I may want to go play in the KHL, so I want to go meet the teams, show them who I am and that I want to play in the NHL," Grigorenko said. "In the KHL it's hard to prepare yourself for the NHL. The NHL was my dream and that's why I came here, because I knew I would be more ready for the NHL."

Grigorenko said this first season playing in North America has been a tremendous learning experience. Under Roy's tutelage in Quebec City, Grigorenko says he learned to become a more complete player by developing his defensive game away from the puck, something he says he never even thought about before this season.

But he also learned how to deal with some adversity.

During the World Junior Championships in Alberta, Grigorenko injured his ankle during a 14-0 win for Team Russia against Latvia. He had two goals and two assists in three games when he was hurt, but earned just one assist in three games afterwards as he tried to play through the injury. That performance, like the one in the playoffs for the Remparts, has drawn some criticism from scouts in spite of the mitigating factor of the ankle injury.

Upon his return to Quebec City, Grigorenko was forced to sit out six games to allow the ankle to heal properly. He said it was the first time in his life he's ever had to miss a single game due to injury, and it was a difficult adjustment for him to make.

"After I got injured it was harder to play, because I've never had injuries before," Grigorenko said. "At the World Juniors I got it, and after it was harder to play because some guys would just slash me on my injury and it was a target for them. It was something that I never had, but now I learned it and next time it happens I will know what to do."

Grigorenko will get an opportunity to share some of his other learning experiences with the 30 NHL clubs in Toronto this week, but he's already gotten a head start. He says he met two weeks ago with the Edmonton Oilers -- who are picking first in the 2012 NHL Draft -- and he also met with Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson, who holds the second pick.

When he was asked to give the reasons why he should be taken first overall instead of the consensus number one prospect, Nail Yakupov of the Sarnia Sting, Grigorenko said he'd already practiced his answer to the question.

"Edmonton asked me this question," he said with a smile. "They asked me, me or Yakupov? I said Yakupov is an amazing player, and for sure it depends on them, but I can say that I'm a player who can play with the team, I'm a team player. I will do everything the coach will tell me to do."

Even though Grigorenko's draft stock has fallen somewhat, at 6-foot-2, 191 pounds and still growing, he represents the mythical big, skilled center that every NHL club covets, and he hopes that parlays itself into a nice surprise on June 22 at the NHL Draft in Pittsburgh.

"I hope I will be (drafted) high, or the highest guy," he said. "I hope I will be first."

Author: Arpon Basu | NHL.com Correspondent

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 48 30 14 4 156 127 64
2 NYI 46 31 14 1 151 129 63
3 DET 47 27 11 9 139 119 63
4 MTL 45 29 13 3 123 106 61
5 PIT 46 26 12 8 138 117 60
6 NYR 44 27 13 4 134 106 58
7 WSH 46 24 13 9 137 120 57
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 44 20 14 10 107 122 50
10 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
11 TOR 48 22 23 3 142 150 47
12 PHI 48 19 22 7 130 146 45
13 CBJ 45 20 22 3 113 142 43
14 NJD 47 17 22 8 107 134 42
15 CAR 46 16 25 5 98 120 37
16 BUF 47 14 30 3 89 167 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 44 15 12 1 27
J. Huberdeau 41 8 17 1 25
A. Ekblad 44 6 19 7 25
J. Jokinen 43 4 20 0 24
J. Hayes 36 13 7 1 20
B. Boyes 42 9 11 1 20
S. Bergenheim 33 7 9 4 16
T. Fleischmann 38 5 8 9 13
V. Trocheck 28 4 9 6 13
D. Kulikov 39 1 12 -2 13
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 17 10 8 .923 2.32
A. Montoya 3 4 2 .887 3.09
 
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