Grigorenko puts full focus on NHL, Canada
Mikhail Grigorenko visits Edmonton, comments on the possibility of playing in Canada
Wearing a brightly coloured, red and white Lacoste polo as he addressed local reporters at Rexall Place Thursday, the NHL -- Canada, even -- is where he wants to be.
Clothing doesn't lie.
"I have a Canada polo now," he laughed. "Teams asked me all the time (about the KHL). But I really like Canada, this country. Not only hockey -- hockey is amazing here, but I really like living here. It's amazing in Canada."
Grigorenko, 18, had a stellar rookie season in the QMJHL. In 59 regular-season games, he posted 40 goals and 85 points, along with a staggering +35 rating. In doing so, he vaulted up NHL Central Scouting's North American Skater rankings into the No. 2 spot behind Nail Yakupov.
With another 11 post-season games under his belt to conclude the 2011-12 campaign, his social demeanour is better now than it's ever been.
"I didn't speak any English at all when I came to Canada, so I couldn't talk to people," he said. "Now I can speak and everything's easier. I learned so many things about Canada, about its culture and the people here. It's easier now.
"I didn't know anything and was a little shy. Throughout the season it got better and I knew everything about my city. If I needed something, I knew where to go."
As previously discussed Wednesday in an edmontonoilers.com exclusive, Grigorenko's compete level has been questioned by scouts everywhere. Amid the critique, he'd contracted mononucleosis late in the season -- perhaps attributing to his poor post-season production.
The 6'2", 191-pound pivot doesn't let it bother him. He's still driven to establish a career in the world's best league.
"I want to play in the NHL," he deadpanned. "It's my dream. Whichever team takes me, it means they want me. I can play in the NHL and be a good player, but I have to work hard."
Grigorenko has a busy day lined up, as he'll meet with General Manager Steve Tambellini, tour the Oilers' locker room space at Rexall Place and see what Oil Country is all about.
-- Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com - Follow me on Twitter | @ryandittrick