Going way back to the June 2001 draft, the Detroit Red Wings thought they had stolen a highly touted Russian forward with their first round pick (62nd Overall). Igor Grigorenko was a highly touted center/right-winger who had played on a line with Ilya Kovalchuk and had turned heads with his play at the World U-18 Championships. He followed up this stellar junior career by becoming the top scorer with Lada of the Russian Super League in 2002-2003. During that same year, he won gold at the World Junior Championships and was named MVP of the championship game. He capped off the year with an appearance at the World Championships playing with the Russian senior team, scoring 2 goals and 1 assist in 7 games.
Grigorenko’s good year came to an end in May of 2003, when he was involved in a serious car accident. Given a 10% chance at survival, Grigorenko pulled through despite severe injuries and numerous breaks in his left leg. He missed the 2003-2004 regular season but gamely tried to skate with Lada in the playoffs. The leg pain returned and he went through another surgery.
After nearly two years off from hockey, Grigorenko returned and started putting up solid numbers in the offense starved RSL. Slowing regaining his strength and talent, he signed a one year entry level deal with the Wings in May of 2007. Though the Wings’ brass is not sure what he will be like, they are confident that he can challenge for a roster spot.
Grigorenko’s scouting report reads like many of his countrymen’s. He is a quick skating, shifty offensive player with opportunistic scoring skills. Good one on one, he has a good shot and is a deft passer. The weaknesses in his game include lingering effects from his accident which may slow his skating and defensive shortcomings. Hopefully his intensity and drive to play will overcome these weaknesses, as this has all the makings of a great story.
News You Can Use in the Late Morning:
-Dale Tallon pleased with 1st overall pick Kane’s performance. He had better be, the Hawks need help now.
-ECHL tough guy Adam Huxley writes letter to Oilers asking for a try-out, gets it and starts chucking knuckles right away. Can you beat the fact that a goon writes a letter asking for a try-out?
-Flames prospect Mikael Backlund to return to Sweden this year, declining an option to play with the Kelowna Rockets. Cue the Oilers fans commenting on the “exodus” from Calgary.
-USHL and QMJHL split the games in their weekend tournament. I am sure this will have the Junior Hockey Talk boards buzzing on Hockey’s Future.
-Russian junior hockey considers an overhaul. I wonder what caused this epiphany?
–10 Questions for the Lighting going into the season.
-Stephen Walkom gives his refs a vote of confidence for their work in the playoffs.
-Brent Aubin looking to show the Leafs what he can do. Finally, a winger for Mats!
-In a follow up to Friday’s prospect pulse, Karamnov likely to re-enter draft.
-A Team by Team preview.
-Stamkos consensus #1 pick in 2008 in TSN mini-poll.
For Illegal Curve, I’m Kyle Kosior (hat tip, Ezzy).