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2018 NHL Draft Profile: Grigori Denisenko is an enigmatic talent

He’s got skill, but lacks consistency

Grigori Denisenko

Position: Left Wing
Current Team: Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)
Date of Birth: June 24, 2000
Birthplace: Novosibirsk, Russia
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 176
Shoots: Right

Rankings

Ranked #15 by HOCKEYPROSPECT.COM
Ranked #18 by FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS
Ranked #18 by ISS HOCKEY
Ranked #27 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
Ranked #7 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (EU Skaters)

2017-18 Stats

31 GP/9 G/13 A/22 P/30 PIM (5/2/7 in 12 playoff games)

Have we warmed up to the idea of drafting Russian skaters? Washington just won a Stanley Cup behind the efforts of several key Russians, while in Columbus we were wowed by the play of our own Russian superstar, Artemi Panarin.

There’s a chance Grigori Denisenko can become that kind of player. On the other hand, some are concerned that his effort lags for shifts or even entire games. Just at The Athletic, one expert, Corey Pronman, has him ranked at #13, while their other expert, Scott Wheeler, has him all the way down at #42.

One encouraging factor is the scoring burst he showed in the MHL (that’s the KHL’s junior league) playoffs, and the 11 points (6 goals, 5 assists) in 14 games with Russia’s U18 team.

Scouting Reports

Denisenko was a very good player on the top team in the MHL this past season. I watched him a ton because his stats don’t line up with my eyes. His numbers might not jump out at you, but trust me, his play on the ice does. He’s dynamic around the puck. His puck skills and vision are high-end. He controls the puck so well and is always looking to make a play. Denisenko is very creative and he can make a highlight reel play. His speed isn’t as dangerous as his skill, but he skates well and can push defensemen back, which, combined with his skill, leads to lots of controlled entries. I’ve seen him take draws at times in the Russia league and kill penalties well, including being dangerous shorthanded. I’d like to see his shot be more lethal, but it’s about average. I’d like to see him produce more as well he’s a small guy who also has some discipline issues, but I see so many plus components that I’m a big believer in his potential. - Corey Pronman, The Athletic

But beyond the numbers, there’s an incredibly skilled forward, likely one of the top in the entire draft in terms of pure potential ability. Denisenko looks like a player who is in perfect control of the puck at all times, even through his fast-paced shuffling of it and at full speed.

As he moves from zone to zone, he can beat opponents one-on-one in a multitude of ways if they skate too slowly against him, and do so very smoothly: go under their sticks, push the puck through feet, or, as he gains the zone, make a quick and powerful cut to the middle to fire a shot.

He can release quickly with his wrist shot and is not afraid to use bodies as screen, or aim through legs for the same purpose. He doesn’t always show pinpoint accuracy, but he is often looking to improve his shot location to give himself the best angle and chance at beating goalies. The work he puts in in this area is something that could make him a deadly scorer as he matures.

He is a very good skater with great form, capable of making rapid adjustments with his edgework, accelerate to outmanoeuvre opponents, or straight up beat them with his speed.

...

There seems to be no limit to what Grigori Denisenko can do, besides the ones that he imposes on himself. He unfortunately has some inconsistency issues. Despite his ridiculous package of skill, which should lead him to dominate most shifts, Denisenko can go the full length of a game without creating much for his team.

With how well his feet and hands work together, he could be using deception more through his stickhandling moves to freeze defenders, enabling him to keep possession under pressure longer and gain a larger separation from opponents to make a more frequent use of his scoring tools. - David St-Louis, Eyes on the Prize

Denisenko Highlights