Mikhail Grigorenko

Two Russians lead 2012 NHL draft class


Mikhail Grigorenko is your new top-ranked 2012 NHL draft prospect, according to International Scouting Services.

The 17-year-old Russian forward leapfrogs another Russian forward, 18-year-old Nail Yakupov, who fell to No. 2 on the list.

Grigorenko, a playmaker that ISS compares to Joe Thornton, is currently plying his trade with the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL.

Yakupov, reportedly more of a Pavel Bure/Taylor Hall-type, plays for the Sarnia Sting of the OHL.

So why Grigorenko over Yakupov?

“(Grigorenko’s) ability to amplify the skill sets of those around him is what sets him apart from the rest of the pack,” said ISS Director of Scouting Dennis MacInnis, as per TSN.ca. “And while the incredible offensive talents of Yakupov are nothing to take lightly, Grigorenko has shown better as of late and this isn’t the first time.”

The Mikhail-versus-Nail debate probably won’t reach Taylor-versus-Tyler levels of hysteria, but it must be encouraging for Russian hockey fans that two of their own could be the first and second picks this summer. The last Russian to go first overall was Alex Ovechkin, in 2004.

The top American player on the ISS list is defenseman Jacob Trouba (No. 6) of the U.S. National U18 Team.

The top Canadian is defenseman Ryan Murray (No. 4) of the Everett Silvertips.

The 2012 NHL draft is considered especially rich in defensemen. Good news for the Washington Capitals, who own Colorado’s first-round pick thanks to the Semyon Varlamov trade.

You can read the full list here.

Lucic: If I wanted to hurt Couture, ‘I would have hurt him’


Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.

Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.

This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.

“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”

While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”

And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.

Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.

In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.

Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks

Torres apologizes to Silfverberg and Sharks


A statement from Raffi Torres:

“I accept the 41-game suspension handed down to me by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. I worked extremely hard over the last two years following reconstructive knee surgery to resume my NHL career, and this is the last thing I wanted to happen. I am disappointed I have put myself in a position to be suspended again. I sincerely apologize to Jakob for the hit that led to this suspension, and I’m extremely thankful that he wasn’t seriously injured as a result of the play. I also want to apologize to my Sharks teammates and the organization.”

A statement from San Jose GM Doug Wilson:

“The Sharks organization fully supports the NHL’s supplementary discipline decision regarding Raffi. While we do not believe there was any malicious intent, this type of hit is unacceptable and has no place in our game. There is a difference between playing hard and crossing the line and there is no doubt, in this instance, Raffi crossed that line. We’re very thankful that Jakob was not seriously injured as a result of this play.”

Silfverberg says he expects to play Saturday when the Ducks open their regular season Saturday in San Jose.