Igor Grigorenko started his career with his hometown team of Lada Togliatti as a young kid. Going through all the midget and junior teams, Grigorenko showed a lot of talent and after his 1999-00 season where he was an offensive force on the junior farm team, Lada-2 with 17 goals and 35 points in 38 games, Grigorenko was promoted to CSK VVS Samara which played in the Upper league.
His rookie season in the Upper League was a very good one as he recorded 10 goals and 10 helpers in 39 games while pilling up 88 penalty minutes. He was also a member of the Russian World U-18 team where he was playing on the first line with the super-talented Ilya Kovalchuk. He had a fantastic tournament where he scored 6 goals and 10 points in 6 games and finished second overall in the tournament scoring. He was also named to the tournaments first All Star team.
Returning to Russia, he was recalled to play with Lada Togliatti in the Superleague playoffs as he managed to keep his great form and was one of the best players on the team as a 17-year-old.
In the mid-season rankings of CSS, Grigorenko was only at the 74th spot. But after a great U-18 World Championship and a Superleague playoff performance, Grigorenko made a huge jump as he was ranked 25th overall among the Europeen skaters at the Final rankings. His late season performance payed of as he was selected in the second round, 62nd overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.
His 2001-02 rookie campaign in the Russian Superleague was impressive as he recorded 7 goals and 16 points in 40 regular season games and scoring 2 goals in 5 playoff games.
He started the season playing on the fourth line with limited ice time. But as the season went on Lada changed its coaching staff and this was a welcomed move for Grigorenko as the new coach gave him more quality ice time. He was now playing on the second line as a center which also was good for his two-way game development.
Grigorenko was also a regular member of the Russian U-20 National team where he was the best scorer and most consistent offensive threat throughout the season. In the last tournament that was played in St. Petersburg, he was voted as the MVP and led the tournament with impressive 5 goals and 1 assist in 5 games. He finished the year with remarkable 15 goals in 19 games.
Grigorenko had a very strong 2002-03 season. He was the leading scorer with Lada in the Russian Superleague with 19 goals and 29 points in 47 regular season games. His 19 goals were also among the top three goal scorers in the league.
His success with Lada gave him the opportunity to make his debut with the Russian senior national team. Grigorenko made the most of his promotion and displayed a very good offensive game which led to 7 goals and 8 points in 17 games including 2 goals and an assist in 7 games at the 2003 WCs.
Grigorenko was also a key member of the 2003 Russian WJC gold medal winning team as he was the leading scorer at the tournament with 6 goals and 10 points in 6 games. His performance earned him the "Top forward" award.
Unfortunately, Grigorenko`s season had a bad ending as he was involved in a car accident. His hopes of playing for the Detroit Red Wings in the 2003-04 season were to be postponed.
Two years after the draft we all know that Håkan Andersson and the other scouts once again have done a magnificent job in finding a gem.