Prospect Profile: #12 Alexandre Grenier

Jeff Angus
August 15 2013 10:16AM


Image via Matthew Henderson

To say that Alexandre Grenier has followed an unconventional developmental path since he was drafted by the Canucks in 2011 would be a bit of an understatement.

The lanky winger has played in four different leagues over the past two seasons – the QMJHL, Austria’s top pro league, the AHL, and the ECHL. Where will be suit up this coming season? And, more importantly, where does he stand as a prospect within this organization?

Read on for more.

Grenier was picked 90th overall back in '11. At the time of his selection, he was tabbed as a “project pick.” The term “project pick” is generally given to prospects with some interesting and unique qualities mixed in with a very raw and unpolished overall game. And it is also commonly applied to bigger players, as it is commonly thought that they generally take longer to develop (Grenier is 6-5 and over 200 pounds).

Grenier was coming off of a very strong QMJHL postseason when the Canucks drafted him, registering eight goals and 16 points in 16 games. He remained at the point-a-game mark the next season, finishing with 64 points in 64 games with the Halifax Mooseheads.

Playing in Halifax was great for his development, as the Mooseheads used him in a variety of situations (including playing the point on the power play). Grenier was an older draft pick, so he had to turn pro after the 2011-12 season. Not many first-year pro prospects leave North America to go and play pro hockey in Austria, but Grenier did exactly that.

Grenier’s time in Austria (with Salzburg) was marred by a concussion suffered as a result of a vicious head shot. He scored five goals and added eight assists in 25 games for a team that featured the likes of Rob Schremp, former WHL sniper Justin Keller, and the immortal Mike Duco.

To get more of a read on Grenier, I talked with Canucks.com prospect writer Tyson Guiriato.

Do you think the time in Austria served Grenier well?

Alex put up decent points in Austria, however due to a minor injury not long into the season and with the NHL labor dispute meaning more players looking for jobs overseas, Alex got caught in a bit of a numbers game and saw his ice-time reduced. One thing I noticed was his skating had improved from the time he went over to the time he got back, which most likely has to do with playing on the bigger ice surface.

Grenier returned to North America in early January after recovering from his concussion. He played only four games in Chicago (one of many victims of a deep Chicago team thanks to the NHL lockout) before heading down to Kalamazoo, where he spent the remainder of the 2013 season. He finished with 31 points in 37 games at that level, and was selected as the team's top rookie at the end of the season.

Grenier was obviously quite productive with Kalamazoo last year. Rarely we see ECHL players make their way up to the NHL. What traits does he have that may allow him to do it?

With the massive roster the Chicago Wolves had last season, we saw a lot of good prospects playing in the ECHL. This doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t top prospects; it was more of a case of a numbers game in the AHL where it was better for them to go down and get some playing time rather than play sparingly with a Wolves team that had seven or eight of their own forwards in the lineup each night. Alex has the size, the shot and the scoring touch to get to the NHL. He needs to work on his speed a bit, but it’s improving.

It is expected that Grenier will play a top-six role with the Comets this year in Utica. He has continued to show flashes of impressiveness since his draft day two years ago, but he still has a long ways to go in order to reach the NHL level in any capacity.

What type of role should he expect to play with Utica this season?

I think Alex will play a variety of roles for Utica this season. He is a versatile player that you can plug in on any of the four lines, whether it is in a checking role or a scoring role. I think the confidence he gained by playing in the ECHL will continue this season in Utica. One thing to look for is a more physical side to him as he is doing Olympic weight training this summer to add some muscle. 

Does he still have NHL upside at this point? Is he still very much a project prospect?

Alex definitely has NHL upside at this point in his career. Anyone that has that kind of size, shooting and scoring ability will get a good look. His first year pro was a bit of a roller-coaster going from Austria to Chicago to Kalamazoo and back to Chicago. Give him a year to settle into his ways and the pro game, and I think we will see big things from Alex.

Grenier has two years left on his rookie contract – so 2013-14 technically isn’t a make or break year for him just yet. However, time is running out for the lanky winger to show that he has a future beyond the ECHL or AHL in this organization.

Other Prospect Profiles in This Series:

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Jeff shares his Canuck-related thoughts with the Army a few times per week. His work can also be found over at DobberHockey.com, as well as his personal blog, AngusCertified.com. Give him a follow on Twitter @anguscertified.
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#1 NM00
August 15 2013, 10:43AM
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How many Darren Archibalds does it take to find the next Alex Burrows?

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#2 Mantastic
August 15 2013, 11:00AM
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didn't Vancouver only have 3 NHLers (2 Fs, 1 D) in the AHL? i don't see that being over crowded due to the lockout.

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#3 3 FWs
August 15 2013, 11:20AM
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@Mantastic

Schroeder, Kassian, Ebbett ... 3 of the 6 spots in the top-6.

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#4 Ted
August 15 2013, 11:47AM
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Canucks didn't have complete control of the Wolves. The prospects had to share time with other players/vets that Wolves brought it. So, that took away even more playing time. This is also why the Canucks fought so hard to get an AHL team that they had control over. That is also why they're picking up a few more fringe players - to fill the Utica roster.

@NM00

You're just a ray of sunshine, aren't you. Again, the epitomy of armchair quarterback/tool.

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#5 NM00
August 15 2013, 12:19PM
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@Ted

You're just a ray of logical fallacies, aren't you?

Again, the empitome of a sheep/Kool-Aid drinker.

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#6 Rev
August 15 2013, 12:34PM
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@NMOO

Agreed that they tend to be emphasizing a certain type of player and that many of the players in the system are similar types. Even agree that most will not work out.

But isn't that what the system is for? If you strike out on several Archibalds and Greniers but hit on 1 late-blooming Burrows isn't that a huge win?

Assuming you have other types in the system as well (and they're beginning to) shouldn't you try to catch lightning in the high risk, boom/bust, skill/size bottle too?

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#7 Mantastic
August 15 2013, 12:40PM
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@3 FWs

ebbett and schroeder were competiting for the same NHL roster slot. they were not in the NHL together when the majority of the main canuck roster was healthy.

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#8 NM00
August 15 2013, 01:13PM
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@Rev

Burrows and Archibald did not require draft picks.

Grenier and Mallet did.

Fairly high drafts picks at that.

And they have spent their early 20s in the ECHL.

Archibald could never play an NHL game and it wouldn't matter considering the acquisition cost.

But a GM wasting fairly high picks on stupid whims is and has always been poor process.

Draft picks are scarce commodities and Gillis has a track record of wasting them on things that are available via free agency.

Which is piss-poor process.

If Gillis wants to find the next Burrows, do it via free agency.

Which, coincidentally, is where Burrows was found in the first place.

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#9 JDM
August 15 2013, 02:21PM
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@NM00

Mallet was a 47th pick, that's "fairly high", but the success rate is still absurdly low with picks 40 and below. Still I'll give you that one. But the 90th overall pick as "fairly high"? Really? I'm ecstatic if I get a regular NHL player at that stage of the draft. If the Canucks lose on a gamble there, it's pretty much par for the course.

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#10 rev
August 15 2013, 02:40PM
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@NMOO

Agreed again, I think. But my question had to do not with stuff we all already know (early picks are valuable and not to be wasted)but with your actual post. Why compare Grenier with Archibald? You're the one who did that, not me.

If your point was that we should take more fliers on Archibalds (ie undrafted projects) when were trying for a skill/size home run because they don't cost much and that we should spend fewer draft picks attempting the same (a la Grenier)then I suppose that's valid. (Although JDM seems right to be about the crapshoot of 90th pick).

But the way your post read to me was that you were lumping Grenier and Archibald in the same pot and were just down on the whole idea of that sort of player (assuming they really are similar types) ever being found and/or acquired by this management team.

That seems exceedingly pessimistic and short-sighted. It seems to me that it takes players of that variety to win in today's NHL so the more you can amass (without neglecting other skill sets), the better your chances at a late blooming player becoming a key piece of a winning team.

Wouldn't you agree with this? Can you clarify what you meant in your first post? Or was it just a cheap shot for the sake of being negative?

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#11 NM00
August 15 2013, 03:01PM
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@rev

"But the way your post read to me was that you were lumping Grenier and Archibald in the same pot and were just down on the whole idea of that sort of player (assuming they really are similar types) ever being found and/or acquired by this management team. "

I split up Grenier (waste of a draft pick on an overager) with Archibald (free asset).

Again, I'm all for taking a shot on "late bloomers" via free agency.

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#12 Ted
August 15 2013, 05:29PM
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@NM00

Nope, can't say I'm a fan of the GM. He started out great but is really showing his rookie GM side. He failed to turn over the roster and keep us Cup contenders; never easy, mind yo.

I prefer to base my comments on fact. You've written off most of these slightly older guys at age 20. I prefer my method and saying I don't know if they'll be NHLers or busts. You come in like a blow-hard and think you have it all figured out. You don't. The only thing you have proven is your ignorance.

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#13 NM00
August 15 2013, 06:35PM
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@Ted

"You've written off most of these slightly older guys at age 20."

You need to stop making things up.

Start here:

https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/strawman

Work your way through the list.

Once you're finished, read through Mike Gillis' comments here:

http://blogs.theprovince.com/2012/06/25/mike-gillis-familiar-draft-strategy/

Perhaps after you've grasped some of these concepts, you can understand the argument against drafting overagers without resorting to a strawman as your weapon of choice.

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#14 Senrik Hedin
August 16 2013, 10:26AM
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Good debate but I guess I just trust Tyson Guiriato's opinion a lot more. Too early to write this guy off.

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#15 Ted
August 19 2013, 03:42AM
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Yep. I prefer Tyson as well over blow-hard. :)

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