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Grigorenko makes Sabres roster, will debut Sunday

Jan 18, 2013, 2:39 PM EDT

Mikhail Grigorenko Getty Images

After wowing teammates and impressive head coach Lindy Ruff, Mikhail Grigorenko was informed on Friday he made the Buffalo Sabres roster to start the season.

“I’m real happy that I’m on an NHL team now,” Grigorenko told the Buffalo News. “I’m really excited and hopefully and I’m going to be playing.”

The official party line is the 18-year-old Russian is a “coach’s decision” to play on Sunday when the Sabres open their regular season campaign against Philadelphia. But it sounds though Grigorenko is almost certainly in.

More, from the Buffalo News:

Regier would only commit to Grigorenko being on the roster, saying it was a “coach’s decision” if he would play. But there were plenty of smirks in the room with Lindy Ruff standing nearby.

Grigorenko is centering Steve Ott and Ville Leino on Sunday, just as he has all week.

“I think we should keep him around little longer and then the coach will have to decide if he’s going to play him a lot,” Regier said.

Ruff said he’s been pleased with what he’s seen in training camp.

“Good playmaker,” Ruff said of Grigorenko. “He defends well for a young player. He’s defending against his teammates. You’d love the opportunity to see him in an NHL game against other players but he does have awareness. He understands the game.”

Leino has raved about Grigorenko, going so far as to compare him to his former Detroit teammate, Pavel Datsyuk.

“He would be awful tough to compare with Datsyuk because he’s one of the best players, that I would say, ever played,” Leino said. “But he’s definitely got some of that playmaking ability.”

  1. elemeno89 - Jan 18, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    Awwwwwwwww yeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaa. This kid is going to be good. Scary good.

  2. broadstbully33 - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:03 PM

    Not as good as galchenyuk… But still gonna be good player

  3. buff80 - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:12 PM

    Hopefully he is the real deal. The 63 inch tv and cold beer are ready for Sunday!

  4. thedavesiknowiknow - Jan 18, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    if he makes Leino appear to belong in the lineup, it’ll be a brief “audition”. No way it goes past 5 games though.

    • bcjim - Jan 18, 2013 at 5:27 PM

      Certainly questionable to burn a contract year. He is either all in or a 5-game temp worker. I would think the latter just as a business decision but I do believe he is destined to be very good.

      • thedavesiknowiknow - Jan 18, 2013 at 7:36 PM

        Yeah. Just given the organizations conservative tendencies, and the fact that Hecht was brought in (Ruff would play Hecht over just about anyone), I’d say he’d have to be spectacular to stay.

  5. pensfan603 - Jan 18, 2013 at 8:12 PM

    I still dont understand how all those defenseman got drafted before him and filip what a steal for buffalo and Washington. I just hope they arent rushing him into the NHL like the Islanders did with Nino Niderrider.

    • thedavesiknowiknow - Jan 18, 2013 at 9:12 PM

      At one point, (prior to the draft) he was mentioned as kind of a 1b, to Nail Yakupov. He had a bad WJ tourney (played through a high ankle sprain), and a poor finish to the season in Quebec (mono). Add that he skipped the combine (still mono supposedly), and that NHL g.m.s still consider Russians “flight risks”, and it certainly adds up. Good on Buffalo to “roll the dice” here (especially given that they haven’t had a center since Briere/Drury). I still consider it a steal.

      • elemeno89 - Jan 19, 2013 at 6:10 AM

        I loved watching his post draft interviews as they showed his true character. This kid is totally committed and it showed when he had the chance to up and leave for the Kyle but chose to stay in Quebec because that was his team at the time. He knows where his priorities lie and he’s completely on board to stick around where he’s needed. All class from this kid as other teams wariness may turn out to be our silver lining.

      • elemeno89 - Jan 19, 2013 at 6:11 AM

        KHL dam mitt. iPads have horrible auto correct…

  6. cl6198 - Jan 18, 2013 at 9:42 PM

    People always think that Ruff is always conservative with young players but they forget that only a few year back the sabres faced the same decision with Tyler Myers and what happened there? He stayed with the club burning a year off his contract and went on to win the Calder cup. I thinks he will stay with the club and go on to have a great year. What is a contract year worth if he can be a stud for your team this year.

    • thedavesiknowiknow - Jan 18, 2013 at 11:53 PM

      True on Myers- but Myers was a rare exception, even as an 18 year old defenseman. 19,000 people would’ve rioted at every home game if he were sent to juniors that year. (Not unlike D) Center is a tricky position in Ruff’s “system”; one that’s proven tough for NHL veterans to be able to appease the coaching staff playing in- let alone an 18 year old kid. I’m not saying it’s impossible, just really unlikely. One thing’s for sure, if he is good enough- it’ll show. And if he’s enough to push them (say possibly) into playoff contention- then he’s definitely staying.

      • elemeno89 - Jan 19, 2013 at 6:15 AM

        Orginazational decisions should not be made for the sake of the fans. Myers was kept because he was needed. Girgoreko will be kept of he can play. It’s a short season with a crammed schedule. That can be hard on a rookie. Although I want him to stay, if the organization feels like sending him down, then so be it. But making that decision based on fan expectations is not the way to do things. I’ve seen so many promising young players lose their promised ability after being forced to come up. It’s a tough transition to play 18 year olds then playing against world class players in the span of a week…

  7. redridershoottheireyeout - Jan 18, 2013 at 10:15 PM

    Pegula, bring in Perrault to help this kid get acclimated to the NHL and hope that Ruff knows what to do with him, already a good sounding line with Grigorenko, Ott and Leino, good guy to dish to the talented winger and a gritty guy to remind guins and bullies of his role. Lets hope the guys who played like ice girls have grown a set and come out ready to compete with the beasts in the East. Maybe Myers spending time with Shea Weber over the summer has brought some smartness and nasty to his game.

    • elemeno89 - Jan 19, 2013 at 6:18 AM

      Why perreault…? He’s more involved on the corporate side of the front office. He has nothing to do with the players. At all. There are just so many things wrong with this statement…

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