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NHL Prospect Profile: Grigori Denisenko

AJ Haefele Avatar
June 19, 2018


Scout Quotes

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 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. – Last Word on Hockey

AJ’s Thoughts

Hooo baby. This guy is straight up tantalizing to watch. His puck skill is elite and his creativity and vision is just awesome. He puts these skills into a smaller physical frame but his excellent skating and agility allow him to slip oncoming defenders with regularity. He plays with his head up and looking around for oncoming traffic. That’s an important trait for a player who simply does not like the physical aspect of the game. And that’s really where he runs into trouble.

Denisenko does not like engaging defensively and he can be prone to emotional meltdowns in the middle of games. He’s had issues when games get out of hand, especially when he’s on the losing side. He’s prone to pouting during games and that’s obviously really problematic. For me, I’m also disappointed in his very lackluster actual point production for a player with his talent. His contentious relationship with the Russian Federation is downright curious as I can’t remember a player who has openly talked about being blackballed the way he has. He might even have an argument but the question is…”why?”

I don’t really know how important all of those politics are when considering him in the first round but it does raise some concerns. It’s pretty rare for a highly-skilled teenager to openly be at war with his country’s hockey body.


Avalanche Fit

Strictly as a player, Denisenko is a decent fit. The Avalanche need high-end offensive talents at all three forward spots so Denisenko is a great fit from that regard. However, he would be another in a growing line of undersized players the Avalanche are relying on to overcome their inherent limitations in the NHL. While a few guys can certainly do that and the league is trending towards smaller players, teams still need a healthy balance of skill and size and right now Colorado is trending towards being awfully small. Talent is the point of the draft, however, and Denisenko has that in bunches. He would be a major boom-or-bust selection for Colorado.


#15 Hockey Prospect
#18 Future Considerations
#27 McKeen’s Hockey


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