Prospect Of Interest: The 411 on Grigori Denisenko

Grigori Denisenko, sixth from left, of Russia, poses after being selected by the Florida Panthers during the NHL hockey draft in Dallas.(Michael Ainsworth/AP)

Grigori Denisenko is a skilled Russian forward.

A right-handed shooter, he plays the left side like countrymen Alexander Ovechkin, Artemi Panarin and Ilya Kovalchuk. The difference is that Denisenko is more of a playmaker than he is a goal scorer.

NHL Central Scouting projects him as the seventh-best European skater in the 2018 NHL Draft.

“He displays high skill level and skating ability with the puck on his stick,” say the people from Draftineu.com. “A playmaker with the shooting ability to finish chances himself.”

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Team: Yaroslavl Lokomotiv (Russia Junior, MHL)
Position: LW
Shoots: Right
Age: 17
From: Novosibirsk, Russia
Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 165 pounds

A STRONG SHOWING IN MULTIPLE PLACES

Whether it was with the Russian National Junior Team, the Junior Lokomotiv, or with the Senior Lokomotiv in the KHL, Denisenko stood out as a highly skilled player.

He had six goals and 11 points with the Russian U-18 squad and scored nine goals and added 13 assists in 31 games with the Junior Lokomotiv.

Though he didn’t produce in the KHL playoffs, the 17-year-old Denisenko held his own.

UNDER CONTRACT IN RUSSIA

Denisenko appeared at the NHL combine in June, but is currently under contract with Yaroslavl for two more seasons.

That could push him a bit further down the draft order, unless he finds a way to break free to come to North America earlier.

But all reports to this point indicate that Denisenko is a first-round talent either way.

SMART AND SLICK

Consensus on Denisenko is that he’s one of the silkiest players available in this draft. Great hand skills, great playmaking ability and a good shot make him an appealing prospect.

And Denisenko has a strong sense for where the play is headed.

“Denisenko is one of the most skilled players in his draft class,” says Corey Pronman of the Athletic. “On a pure talent level, he’s one of the top Russians in this draft class (up there with Andrei Svechnikov, but without the size). Denisenko manipulates the puck so well and does so at high speeds.”

UPSIDE IS CLEAR

Denisenko’s slight size at 165 pounds shouldn’t be too much of a concern.

As he fills out, he’ll prove he’s got an NHL career ahead of him.

Sportsnet’s Sam Cosentino says, “he’s got world-class speed, skill and hands,” and suggests he could go 16th overall.

Steve Kournianos of the Sporting News and thedraftanalyst.com says Denisenko is, “a creative player with the puck who can dart in and out of the lanes with expert edge work, quick acceleration and creative lines. Slight stature but enjoys engaging.”

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