Khabarovsk, Russia native Mikhail Grigorenko came to North America to do one thing: play in the National Hockey League. Under Quebec Remparts Head Coach Patrick Roy, Grigorenko led all Quebec league rookies with 40 goals and 85 points in his first season in North America. Although the QMJHL doesn’t boast a lot of top-end talent in this year’s draft, Grigorenko is far and away the best, and challenged top-ranked draft prospect Nail Yakupov for No. 1 status much of the season. He was the second-youngest player on Russia’s silver medal-winning squad at the 2012 World Junior Championships, scoring five points in six games. NHL Central Scouting’s David Gregory says Grigorenko possesses the rare ability to control the pace of a game.
“Mikhail has the patience and the ability to see opportunities and let them develop, which is a special skill,” Gregory said. “He's the kind of forward who will control the play and make things happen.”
NewYorkIslanders.com asked Grigorenko what he is doing to prepare for his first NHL training camp, and how hard it was leaving home at 17-years-old to play on a new continent.
NewYorkIslanders.com: How would you describe your style of play on the ice to fans who have never seen you play before?
Mikhail Grigorenko: I’m a playmaker. I love to play with the puck and I have good vision and always find my teammates to get them a pass.
NYI: How much of an adjustment was it playing in North America?
Five things to know about Mikhail Grigorenko
1. Grigorenko won a silver medal with Russia at the 2012 World Junior Championships, scoring five points in six games
2. The Remparts traded up twice in order to select Grigorenko with the second overall pick in the 2011 CHL Import Draft.
3. He started playing hockey at five-years-old and didn’t enjoy it at first because “he wasn’t very good.”
4. His favorite NHL player is fellow countryman Ilya Kovalchuk. His favorite Superhero is Batman.
5. He hails from Khabarovsk, a city in southeast Russia, the same hometown as long-time NHL forward Alex Mogilny.
MG: It was an easy decision for me, because I want to play in the NHL, and I know that the CHL is the best place to prepare for the NHL. Here, you can prepare yourself to play in the NHL, so that’s why I came.
NYI: What kinds of things did you learn from Patrick Roy in Quebec?
MG: He helped me a lot because when I came over, I didn’t know how to play without the puck, how to play in the defensive zone, but he taught me and he helped me a lot. He supported me on the ice and off the ice. For me it was hard at first there, because I couldn’t speak English. But he was nice to me.
NYI: What do you need to improve on before your first NHL training camp?
MG: I don’t think I can improve my raw skills a lot. Now I think it’s more about power, and being faster, and more physical.
Information from NHL.com was used in this report.
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