With the third pick in the 2012 SBN Mock Entry Draft, the crew from Eyes On The Prize proudly select, from the Quebec Remparts, Mikhail Grigorenko.
For years, the Canadiens faithful have been after a big first line center. Lars Eller is big, and a center but not at the top-line level. Scott Gomez? Well let's not even go there. Grigorenko on the other hand seems to have the potential to fill that long missed void up the middle.
Following a fantastic regular season, where he racked up 85 points in his QMJHL debut, winning the Michel Bergeron Trophy as the league's best offensive rookie, as well as Rookie of The Year and A First Team All-Star selection.
Grigorenko's stock took a drop in the rankings when the Remparts were eliminated by the Halifax Mooseheads. He managed just a pair of points in the last four games, but that has been attributed to the fact he was not 100% (suffering from a bout of mono), which also forced him out of the workouts at the 2012 NHL Combine.
Grigorenko has also been cited at times as lazy, unwilling to do the dirty work in the corners defensively and playing when he wants. But given he was willing to play under the weather in the playoffs, and with a bad ankle at the World Junior Championships, you have to think he is a competitor.
What Grigorenko does bring to the table is a 6'3" frame that is a lot stronger than it appears and is hard to move once he picks up speed, according to McKeen's Hockey. He's often compared to Jason Spezza or Evgeni Malkin and is cited with good vision, above average passing ability and a quick release wrist shot. The 18-year -old is also a strong two-way player, who has tendencies to play his best when challenged by the opposition and extremely hard to deal with along the offensive boards.
He's still on a learning curve to the North American game but has dismissed reports that he would seek employment in the KHL.
Respected Hockey Prospectus scouting guru Corey Pronman is a vocal fan of Grigorenko. He has stated several times during the year that Grigorenko has the potential to be the best player in the draft, despite his detractors. In the end, Pronman ranked Grigorenko a close second to Nail Yakupov.
Final Scouting Rankings
NHL Central Scouting: No. 3 among North American skaters
The Hockey News: No. 3
McKeen’s Hockey: No. 9
Red Line Report: No. 8
TSN: No. 4
Hockey Prospectus: No. 2
The Hockey News "He’s a very talented player – he’s got everything. He’s way ahead – he’s like a man already. Every time he has the puck, he makes something happen and seldom does he make the wrong play."
Hockey's Future: "A big man in the pivot position, Grigorenko is still adjusting to the North American game. Offensively, he displays great patience with the puck and the ability to find open ice or feed a pass to an open man. Although he has been criticized for his consistency and intensity, Grigorenko played through a handful of injuries during the year and his talent level is undeniable. A smooth skater with great hands, he made strides during the season to play a more all-around game."