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Will Buffalo’s two first-round picks be in the NHL next season?

Jul 10, 2012, 10:51 AM EDT

2012 NHL Entry Draft - Portraits Getty Images

The Buffalo Sabres could have a new — and decidedly young — look at center next season.

With veterans Tim Connolly, Paul Gaustad and Derek Roy gone, the door is open for the likes of 22-year-olds Cody Hodgson and Tyler Ennis to log big minutes.

There’s also the possibility for a pair of 18-year-old first-round picks, Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons, to be in the mix as well.

Both are participating at Sabres prospect camp this week, where they were asked about their goals for the 2012-13 season.

For Grigorenko, it’s to be in the show.

“Make the NHL,” the 12th overall pick said. “I’m getting stronger and on the ice I feel more comfortable.”

The Russian sniper has two options — either he makes the NHL, or is sent back to Quebec of the QMJHL.

For Girgensons, it’s a little more complex. Because he played in the USHL (Dubuque) last year, he can sign with the Sabres and start his professional career right away — either in Buffalo or AHL Rochester.

He could also keep his commitment to the University of Vermont.

“Nothing’s been clarified yet. We’ll see what happens after camp. I don’t know,” the 14th overall pick said. “That’s something I’ve got to talk through this week. I think it will be my own decision. No one’s pushing me, but it’s something I have to decide. … It’s something in me, what my heart’s going to say.

“The decision I’m going to make is what I want.”

The Sabres had some fun with the two draftees at development camp, putting them on the same line as 2011 first-round pick Joel Armia (16th overall). It gave a glimpse to what the future has in store for Buffalo, perhaps utilizing Girgensons on the left or right side.

“We clicked together pretty good, I think, so we’ll see how it goes this week,” he explained. “It’s not a problem for me to transfer to the wing.”

  1. cmv08 - Jul 10, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    Buffalo has a pair of future all-stars here. This team is getting younger and tougher with some added skill and solid veterans. I’ll be on the lookout for this team next season.

    • andyb02 - Jul 10, 2012 at 1:46 PM

      All stars? Let them play a game first.

  2. billsin20xx - Jul 10, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    Since Ruff forces his centers to only play defense they will never be all-stars as sabres, until (hopefully) this Dec-Jan when Pegula gets rid of him!!!

  3. elemeno89 - Jul 10, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    i have a good feeling about this team this year. most assuredly in two years.

    • mehetmet - Jul 10, 2012 at 1:40 PM

      unfortunately thats the story of our lives. “we will be good in 2 years” is everything Buffalo.

      I mean hey, I love Buffalo, and hope we are great, and hope to see a championship soon, but seriously, story of my life.

  4. buffalomafia - Jul 10, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    Big deal the Sabres can fight now!

    What about scoring goals?

    • elemeno89 - Jul 10, 2012 at 12:45 PM

      so im guessing you must now know much about armia, grigorenko, foligno, pominville, vanek, stafford, ennis, and hodson…?

    • elemeno89 - Jul 10, 2012 at 12:46 PM

      so im guessing you must not know much about armia, grigorenko, foligno, pominville, vanek, stafford, ennis, and hodson…?

  5. sergeikremlin - Jul 10, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    Grigorenko was the steal of the draft. Elite talent, unfair rep, GM’s conforming, imo. Sabres will be rewarded for this pick.

  6. dhawks19 - Jul 10, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    Buffalo got the better deal on the hodson trade

    • jpelle82 - Jul 11, 2012 at 1:38 PM

      duh

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