If you hang around long enough, names come back to you like a boomerang. An example: Mikhail Grigorenko, who was under consideration for No. 1 overall in 2012. Edmonton flew him in for an interview on June 6, 2012, and that is absolutely confirmation of interest. Of course, that was several managers ago, but Grigorenko’s appearance on the recent TSN Trade Deadline list piqued my interest. What has Mr. G been up to?
First, he is in Colorado, playing for the Avalanche. He is listed at No. 17 among names in play, and is listed as a LW at this time. He is 53, 6-12-18 this season, 14:50 a night, is still 6.03 and is now 209. Grigorenko is regarded as having exceptional skills but lacks consistency. He last scored on Valentine’s day. He turns 23 in May, and boasts a 55.6 faceoff percentage but has taken only 142 of them. I am uncertain of the meaning of it, there are some bad percentages on the team who have taken more faceoffs.
ORIGINAL SCOUTING REPORT
- Corey Pronman: “He’s an exceptionally gifted player who can control the flow of a hockey game seemingly at will with elite puck skills, vision, offensive creativity, and overall hockey sense. He makes high level dekes seem effortless and is the kind of player who is able to slow the game down to his pace rather than try to keep up with it. His ability as a playmaker is really special as he is the classic “eyes in the back of his head” type of player who consistently makes high-level reads quickly and effectively. Grigorenko’s hand skills allow him to keep the puck away from pursuers very well and when he’s setting up in open ice, the chances of a defender being able to cleanly check him is low.”
- Red Line Report: “As talented as Grigorenko is, he simply does not work hard AT ALL when he doesn’t have the puck, even at crucial moments in a game. One shift he had about four minutes left to go in a game his team was only losing by one goal perfectly illustrated the point. After attempting an individualistic play, Grigorenko lost the puck behind the net in the attacking zone, it squirted free to a defenseman about two feet to his right, and he just stood there watching as the defender skated the puck out of trouble without even a hint of trying to track him down or even put mild pressure on him. It would have been a real eye-opener for us – if we hadn’t been seeing the exact same thing from him for three years now.”
I love looking back at great scouting reports, because inevitably all of the things suspected turn out to be true as time goes by. The pucks skills described by Pronman are in evidence, and he is among the best 5×5 scorers for the Avalanche this season. Here are the vitals on Grigorenko:
- Boxcars: 53, 6-12-18
- 5×5/60: 1.38 (No. 4 among Avalanche forwards who are regulars, Grigorenko has 608 5×5 minutes)
- 5×4/60: 2.44 (No. 8 among Avalanche forwards who are regulars, Grigorenko has 98 5×4 minutes)
- 5×5 shots per 60: 5.05
- Corsi for 5×5: 44.9
- Most common linemate: Matt Duchene. Grigorenko is scoring 1.79/60 5×5 in 234 minutes with Duchene, just 42.8 Corsi for 5×5 percentage.
- Salary, cap and situation: $1.3 million in 2016-17 he is RFA and arbitration eligible.
He matches the size Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan like, and he is a bigger man who can play center. He has speed and has (based on reports) refined his game to be more consistent. Is he a reasonable return for Brandon Davidson? Would Grigorenko be a more valuable forward than the No. 7 F Edmonton currently has in the slot, say Jujhar Khaira or Zack Kassian?
THE TSN 40 THROUGH AN OILERS LENS
- RD Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis. A non-starter, he isn’t interested in signing long term and money’s too tight to mention.
- LC Matt Duchene, Colorado. I would be very pleased with Duchene on this team, but the asset cost would be mammoth. Nuge and Klefbom?
- LC Martin Hanzal, Arizona. A perfect fit, the price point will be the issue. Would he be open to a contract? Can Edmonton afford him? He and Nuge could be golden on the same line.
- R Patrick Eaves, Dallas. Scoring winger this season, he seems in a zone. Does that change when he leaves the Stars lineup? Plays often with Benn and Seguin.
- RD Michael Stone, Arizona. I could see Edmonton signing him in the summer, so he might be an interesting addition depending on the price. Hard to mark him because injuries have taken away so many games.
- R Radim Vrbata, Arizona. Bonus issue is absolutely an issue, not sure how many teams will shy away from him because of it. My guess is Edmonton passes on the opportunity.
- L Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado. Like Duchene, you would want Peter Chiarelli to make the call, but prices will be too high for a growth team.
- G Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay. A deadline name that haunts us with the comedy of it all. Unlikely to be pursued.
- L Evander Kane, Buffalo. You know, he brings a lot of elements that Chiarelli and McLellan like. Major pricetag and of course the cap hit is supreme as well.
- LC Brian Boyle, Tampa Bay. Probably the most likely acquisition among the first 10 names, Boyle would be a solid rental. The big issue will be price, and I remain unconvinced the Lightning will be sellers.
- LC Patrik Berglund, St. Louis. The surge by the Blues may mean the For Sale sign gets put away, but this is another name that has been in play past years. I like him, always have. Seems a little shy physically for the Chiarelli-McLellan Oilers.
- R Patrick Sharp, Dallas. Like Boyle, I think Sharp fits like a glove with the Oilers. Chiarelli likes to add veterans at the deadline, and Sharp would no doubt relish the offensive opportunity in Edmonton.
- R Thomas Vanek, Detroit. I am surprised the Red Wings aren’t going to sign him. Vanek will be one of the most coveted players deadline day, bet he goes to a team with a (perceived) late first rounder. I do not think the Oilers will move their own.
- L Anthony Duclair, Arizona. Matches some of the requirements for the current Oilers, but is not established and the Oilers need more certainty.
- G Ondrej Pavelec, Winnipeg. Seems a stretch. I would hate it, so because of that one thing we shouldn’t rule it out.
- LD Dmitri Kulikov, Buffalo. There was a time, but this isn’t it.
- L Mikhail Grigorenko, Colorado. I can see this happening.
- R Curtis Lazar, Ottawa. You know they’re interested. It could happen, more likely in summer.
- R Jarome Iginla, Colorado. I think the Oilers as buyers comes a year or two late with Iginla. A wonderful player.
- G Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh. The least likely name on the list for the Oilers. Flames?
- R Shane Doan, Arizona. He might be a fit, but is apparently heading to California.
- R Jordan Eberle, Edmonton. I think he stays, Oilers simply do not have a RW who can step in.
- R Alex Burrows, Vancouver. I mentioned it a week ago, but this does make a little sense. I know, I know, but the cost won’t be high and he does have some scoring skill.
- L Matthieu Perreault, Winnipeg. The contract makes acquiring him a bad idea. Even if you traded Benoit Pouliot for him, Perreault has four years left on his deal. No way PC makes that move.
- R Drew Stafford, Winnipeg. I always liked him, but his offense has cratered and Edmonton needs runs.
- LD Kyle Quincey, New Jersey. Cap hit is minimal, but the Oilers have enough LHD at this time.
- G Jaroslav Halak, NY Islanders. He has been mentioned in the local MSM a little, so maybe there is fire. He has $4.5M owed him next year, can’t see the Oilers doing that unless Islanders retain or take back Pouliot.
- L Brandon Pirri, NY Rangers. Inexpensive offense has to be of interest at the deadline, Pirri does not match the player-type Edmonton is likely to pursue.
- L Valtteri Filppula, Tampa Bay. He is having a better year in 2016-17, but has one season left at $5 million. I cannot see Edmonton wanting that contract.
- L Jannik Hansen, Vancouver. Another Canucks forward I can see Edmonton having interest in, he has one more year to go on a reasonable ($2.5M) deal. He is 0-3-3 in eight games since coming back from injury. I like him as a player.
- RD Cody Franson, Buffalo. An option for sure, seems to me Matt Benning could slide into the PP role—meaning Franson’s value to Edmonton is far less than it might be to another team.
- LD Johnny Oduya, Dallas. Never say never to defensive help this time of year, and the Oilers may look to add someone if they move Brandon Davidson at the deadline. I would say this is an unlikely acquisition.
- LD Mark Streit, Philadelphia. I have always liked him and he seems fairly productive even at age 70. If the Oilers grab him, the Leftorium is even more ridiculous. That said, he is an interesting player.
- LD Michael Dal Zotto, Philadelphia. No.
- LD Patrick Wiercioch, Colorado. I have always liked him as a player, suspect he would be a really good add for the expansion team. Doubt the Oilers make a pitch.
- G Jhonas Enroth, Anaheim. He struggled early this year, I would be fine with him. He is on fire in the AHL.
- L Jiri Hudler, Dallas. A good player having a tough season. Unlikely.
- L P.A. Parenteau, New Jersey. Yes! Why not? The guy scores goals, this has high value.
- L Scottie Upshall, St. Louis. Oilers have this spot filled by Matt Hendricks.
- LD Ron Hainsey, Carolina. Another season of 22 minutes a night, mobile, savvy veteran. A lefty, so unlikely.
That’s the TSN list. Here are some additional players that make sense for the Oilers (to me):
- G Anders Nilsson, Buffalo. 20 games this year, .922SP and a 9-7-4 record. Of course, Buffalo is surging, so maybe this isn’t an option.
- G Reto Berra, Florida. He is in the AHL (28gp, .911) and shouldn’t cost a bunch.
- LHD Yohann Auvitu, New Jersey. I refuse to give up on this idea, especially because the Devils seem to be unaware of his potential. Sleeper I admit, but a worthy acquisition.
- G Michal Neuvirth, Philadelphia. He was strong in January (6gp, .919) and was duplicating it in February until the Alberta Clipper poked a hole in his numbers. He would be an interesting addition.
Most likely (imo) are in yellow, your opinions welcome.