New Sabres draft pick Mikhail Grigorenko is the talk of the town in Buffalo. Many hold high hopes for the talented youngster, expecting him to grow into the elusive all-star number one center the team so dearly needs. Many outside of Buffalo have knocked him for showing a lack of effort, poor conditioning, and for just being Russian. Some have compared his game to Evgeni Malkin. Some have offered comparisons to Alexei Yashin and Alexei Kovalev. Some have guessed he’s destined to bolt to the KHL like Alexander Radulov.
At this point, there are many more questions than answers about Grigorenko, but that won’t stop us from trying to figure out just what we might reasonably expect from him. Below is a list of six players comparable to what we know about Grigorenko’s skills, attributes, draft position, and advanced billing. We’ve also projected the chances Grigorenko has to attain a similar level of achievement. Use the comment section below to add your opinion.
Comparable 1 – Evgeni Malkin – Drafted 2nd overall, 2004
The biggest, strongest, and most talented player on the ice many nights and has earned the hardware to prove it.
Chance Grigorenko becomes the next Malkin: 5%
Comparable 2 – Anze Kopitar – Drafted 11th overall, 2005
All-Star caliber, gifted offensive player with great hands, creativity and skating ability. Not a physical player, despite his massive frame.
Chance Grigorenko becomes the next Kopitar: 10%
Comparable 3 –
Nik Antropov – Drafted 10th overall, 1998
Big man that too often plays a small man’s game. Shows flashes of brilliance but consistently leaves fans and coaches wanting more. Owns good vision and two-way smarts but needs to play more aggressively.
Chance Grigorenko becomes the next Antropov: 25%
Comparable 4 – Martin Hanzal – Drafted 17th overall, 2005
Quality two-way center with size. Sound two-way pivot but takes nights off and doesn’t utilize his big frame nearly enough.
Chance Grigorenko becomes the next Hanzal: 15%
Comparable 5 – Dainius Zubrus – Drafted 13th overall, 1996
Has a huge frame and knows how to use it to protect the puck. Excellent defensive awareness but lacks offensive consistency and confidence with the puck.
Chance Grigorenko becomes the next Zubrus: 10%
Comparable 6 – Marek Zagrapan – Drafted 13th overall, 2005
Drafted 13th overall by the Sabres in 2005, Zagrapan was billed as a “supreme playmaker” with size. He played three full seasons in the minors but never made it to the NHL. He since returned to Europe to play in the KHL.
Chance Grigorenko becomes the next Zagrapan: 35%
If you add up these percentages, you’ll see we estimate he has a 65% chance of being at least a productive NHL player. And if you take a look at NHL draft history, mid-1st-round picks are about a 50/50 proposition on average.