Grigorenko: about that whole “Work Ethic” thing…

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Does Mikhail Grigorenko take a shift off here or there?

That had been the fully broadcasted question looming over the prospect as he headed into the draft – a possible malaise in his wheels that caused him to slide all the way to the 12th overall pick and the Buffalo Sabres.

Well, he’s our NHL property now, so before we argue the point, let’s enjoy a few highlights.

 

 

Grigorenko Howl Sabres 300x184 Grigorenko: about that whole Work Ethic thing...

His passion for the game is certainly evident when he scores a goal. And he scores a lot of goals.

 

Indeed, Grigoenko has the skill set to join the likes of Gilbert Perreault and Pierre Turgeon as the greatest picks in Sabres history. Of course, that’s a big statement, and a lot to live up to. But again, he’s got the tools.

But then there’s that nagging argument over his effort. While covered extensively, there are plenty of rebuttals to the argument, and they come from big names.

From Corey Pronman (ESPN, Hockey Prospectus):

I believe Grigorenko is the clear second-best prospect in this draft, and in some draft classes, he would have the talent level to be a first overall pick.

…I normally do not like to reference other rankings done in the public domain for reasons that should be obvious for someone who publishes their own rankings and reports. However, someone like Bob McKenzie’s rankings, whose method relies on polling NHL scouts, serves as an additional useful source to aid this column. When McKenzie polled scouts about Grigorenko in February, he was ranked second. When he polled them again in early April, he was ranked second. When Central Scouting released their mid-terms in January, their director Dan Marr called Yakupov and Grigorenko a 1A-1B situation.

…generally, Grigorenko’s output has been great.

…I had heard from for just about most of Grigorenko’s prospect career, the deficiency in that area was noted, but it was noted to not be a gaping hole that sucked the elite prospect status out of him, but just a minor weakness. A weakness that did not nullify his elite-level puck possession skills and the plays he could make with the puck and the passes he could make. Not to mention the fact he skates well and has a great frame.

…I’m not going to try and start pinpointing when the intangible questions really started, or how much his second half of the season and more specifically the second round of the QMJHL playoffs has played into Grigorenko’s perceived value. It is clear that there was an effect at least because I would not bring up an issue like this unless I felt the chatter in the hockey community has been played up to the point where what I’m saying wouldn’t be news.

Pronman had more to say about this issue in an earlier article, after ranking Girgorenko #2 in the draft (behind Yakupov, and ahead of Galchenyuk):

When you combine his puck skills and sense, though, you get the combination of tools that allow him to make “unique” plays, that after they happen, you try to remember about the last time you saw a play similar to that.

Ranking Explanation: This ranking won’t require the same amount of detail. I see Grigorenko as a better puck handler, and a much better thinker while Galchenyuk is a better skater, with a better physical game and intangibles. Outside of the difference in hockey sense—where Galchenyuk is high end—I don’t see a massive gap that could really tilt the scales in any of those differences. They are both great players, but Grigorenko has top 15-20 forward in the league upside, whereas Galchenyuk’s upside is an above-average first-line center, which in itself is tremendous, but it isn’t Grigorenko. Grigorenko’s intangibles I understand create concerns, as I’ve addressed above. I’m not promoting the fact Grigorenko goes 100%, but in a neutral environment, if you take his talent level + effort = output, over the long run, he gives enough effort level to project to deliver elite level output.

Click on the links to read those articles in full: they’re well worth your time.

NHL legend/coach Patrick Roy has sounded off on this issue as well – and he should know a lot about Grigoenko, having been his coach with the Quebec Remparts. (The following quote from Roy is translated courtesy of Google Translator.)

“Frankly, I’m upset that I hear comments on the absence of the hard work of Michael. From the first day after the decision to move in “Quebec” Grigorenko taught English.

He practiced for three hours a day, and his English is very good. He had a strong interest in becoming a player in the NHL.

Michael trained hard all the time. He needs to work on stamina, he gets tired easily, but that does not mean that the player is engaged without due diligence.

If you look at what this season has made Yakupov for “Sarnia” and that Grigorenko for “Quebec”, it is possible to conclude that Michael has made us a much stronger team.

Hopefully, people will not throw stones at him because he played in the Junior League of Quebec. Would apply to Michael as if he had played in the junior league Ontario? In my opinion, he deserves respect for what is already done, and he will cope with everything “

It could be a work ethic issue. It could be a simple stamina issue. It could be that he is simply a unique talent that makes unique plays. For now, until he proves the naysayers wrong, he is going to have to strive under a questioned reputation.

Whether that was truly earned or not, the only way to erase his reputation is put some time in on some NHL ice. The Sabres would be well off to find out – the sooner the better.

Alas, like all draft prospects, it all comes down to that old idiom, “time will tell.” Sorry Sabres fans, but we’ll have to just be patient with this one. My advice: don’t sweat it.

Just look forward to his arrival.

Go Sabres.

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