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Playing his hockey for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl’s MHL team, Grigori Denisenko has put up nine goals and 22 points in 31 games this season. He added three goals and two assists in six playoff games. However, the talented Russian winger has really made a name for himself on the international stage.
In the 2016-17 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, he put up four points in six games. Denisenko also put up four points in four games at this year’s World Junior A Hockey Championships. He has played in a number of tournaments with the Russian Under-18 National Team, scoring six goals and five assists for 11 points in 14 games. However, Denisenko will not be playing for Russia at the Under-18 World Championships. The exact reason why has not been explained, but it seems curious given that he was expected to be part of the first line.
Grigori Denisenko Scouting Report
Left Wing — shoots Right
Born June 24th, 2000 — Novosibirsk, Russia
Height 5’10” — Weight 165 lbs [179 cm/75 kg]
Denisenko is an excellent skater. He has a smooth stride that leads to quick acceleration and very good top-end speed. His quick feet lead to very good agility and edge work. This makes him tough for defensemen to handle on the rush. He can beat them to the outside and cut to the net, or make a quick move and weave through traffic. Denisenko can get a bit stronger on his skates though. This would lead to better balance, and make him harder on the puck in the cycle, and better in battles along the boards.
Denisenko is extremely dangerous off the rush. As noted, he is an excellent skater. He pairs that skating ability with the hands to make plays while moving at top speed. His soft hands and excellent stick handling ability gives him a number of quick dekes and feints that can beat a defender one-one-one. If defenders give him too much space, it opens up passing and shooting lanes and Denisenko is skilled enough to take advantage of the situation. He has outstanding vision and passing skills. He can make a perfect tape-to-tape pass to a teammate. Denisenko has the stick handling ability and the intelligence to slow the play down and wait for the perfect time to make that pass to his teammate.
Denisenko’s snapshot and wrist shot are very accurate. They also feature a quick release. However, he could stand to add more upper body muscle and this would lead to more power on his shot. He has the soft hands to finish in tight to the net. He is not the type of player to find himself in front of the net without the puck, as one criticism is that his game is a bit too much of a perimeter style at this point.
Denisenko’s defensive game is a work in progress. He does not get himself involved on the backcheck, often cheating up the ice and hoping for a turnover and offensive chance the other way. He is not much of a physical player. When he does come back, Denisenko also has a bad habit of puck watching and not keeping his feet moving. This allows the defenceman he is supposed to be covering to find open ice and set up for a point shot. Overall there will need to be some real improvements at the defensive end, or he will drive his coaches nuts.
Projection and Comparison
Denisenko has the potential to be a top six forward in the NHL. He will need to succeed in continuing to grow his offensive skill, as its unlikely he’ll ever be counted on for his physical play or his defensive play. However, that offensive ability is high and he could become a real game breaker. It will take some time though, and he’s likely to spend some time developing in either the KHL or AHL before being NHL ready. Denisenko’s game is reminscent of Artemi Panarin, but this is a style comparison, not one based on potential or talent.
The following is a compilation of some of the many highlight packages of Denisenko that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Main Photo: via Twitter
Lokomotiv U17 won silver medals with just one loss at the tournament. Denisenko received best scorer award. pic.twitter.com/HbihIDHKtf
— Anton Vasyatin (@Av1376) May 3, 2017