Jul 15, 2014, 6:25 PM EDT
BUFFALO — When the Buffalo Sabres selected Mikhail Grigorenko with the 12th overall selection in 2012, many wondered if the team was taking a risk on a player whom many scouts differed on just how good he would be.
Since then, Grigorenko has started off the past two seasons in Buffalo only to be sent back to his junior team, the Quebec Remparts. The 20-year-old Russian forward is currently in the midst of his third prospect camp with the Sabres and knows he has a lot to prove this year. He also knows where to lay some of the blame for not sticking with the big club.
“From past experience I realized it’s probably no one’s fault but mine that I didn’t go into the NHL,” Grigorenko said at First Niagara Center on Tuesday. “If I want to play in the best league in the world, it’s just on me. No one’s going to make me play just because I was drafted in the first round. I just have to go out there and be the best.”
Being the best is something the Sabres have been eager to witness. In his abbreviated stints with the team the past two seasons, he’s scored three goals and added five assists in 43 games. In Quebec it’s been a different story.
Grigorenko has excelled against players his own age the past two seasons. In 56 games with the Remparts he scored 45 goals with 93 points. This season he’ll either be with the Rochester Americans in the AHL or Buffalo – a challenge he’s eager to accept.
“It’s going to be good for me to play against men for sure this year,” he said. “I’m really excited for this year. I’m pretty sure I’m going to get way better than I did last year.”
His time in Buffalo has come at an awkward point for the organization. He’s played for three different head coaches with Lindy Ruff, Ron Rolston, and Ted Nolan. With Tim Murray replacing Darcy Regier as general manager, it’s almost an entirely different organization. Throw in the coaches he’s played for with Quebec, Team Russia at World Juniors, and in the AHL with the Rochester Americans that’s a lot of different voices telling him what to do.
“It’s pretty tough,” Grigorenko admitted. “Learning the new strategies and some coaches like you more, some coaches like you less. You have different roles in each team you play for, I was lucky enough that all the coaches were all really nice to me. I thought every single coach I had tried to help me to be a better hockey player and a better person.”
After all he’s seen and gone through in his professional career to this point, you’d think he might have too much going through his head to help him become the dynamic offensive player the Sabres are hoping he’ll blossom into. That’s an issue he’s worked on to fix, but the pressure to perform in the NHL is clearly there.
“I need to think a little less,” Grigorenko said. “I just have to want the puck and go in on every single battle and want the puck. I’m an offensive player so I just need to score goals. I have to bring the offense. If I don’t score goals and don’t have points then I guess no one needs me on the team now.”
Grigorenko will look to earn a spot with the Sabres at training camp in September. He came into prospect camp at 218 pounds, up 10 pounds from last year, he said. He also credits skating instructor Dawn Braid for helping him get his stride and technique straightened out.
If all of those adjustments to his game and seemingly to his approach off the ice work out, the Sabres will have a potentially dangerous offensive weapon as part of their rebuild.
Aug 2, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
Andersen, Gibson & Khudobin have a combined 27 Stanley Cup playoff games on their resume.
Aug 2, 2015, 1:31 PM EDT
Will all of them play in 2015-16?
Aug 2, 2015, 11:48 AM EDT
That will eat up his first year of UFA eligibility.
Aug 2, 2015, 11:28 AM EDT
Can they close to final gap between them and the Stanley Cup?
Aug 2, 2015, 9:48 AM EDT
They avoided an arbitration judgment.
Aug 2, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
They’re in win now mode.
Aug 1, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT
He’ll add some toughness to the lineup.
Aug 1, 2015, 7:15 PM EDT
New Jersey is still working on getting the 18-year-old signed to an entry-level contract.
Aug 1, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT
The two met in the Czech Republic to get to know one another.
Aug 1, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT
Lehtonen and Niemi will account for $10.4 million in cap space next season.
Aug 1, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT
He’s heading into the final year of his two-year, $5 million deal.
Aug 1, 2015, 11:15 AM EDT
Winnipeg was affiliated with the Ontario Reign last season.
Aug 1, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT
He signed a two-year, bridge contract worth $5.6 million on Thursday.
Jul 31, 2015, 10:22 PM EDT
He’s also a veteran of 616 career games.
Jul 31, 2015, 9:01 PM EDT
That’s close to the middle between his and Washington’s requests.
Jul 31, 2015, 8:30 PM EDT
The decision surprised Arizona’s general manager.
Jul 31, 2015, 7:01 PM EDT
The defenseman spent the 2014-15 campaign in the Swiss League.
Jul 31, 2015, 5:36 PM EDT
He considers himself a “young 29.”
Jul 31, 2015, 4:11 PM EDT
Ray Shero’s restructure continues.
Jul 31, 2015, 2:46 PM EDT
There is a key deadline approaching though.
- Bernier, Leafs agree on two-year, $8.3 million deal 15
- How do Voracek, Giroux compare to the most expensive duos? 54
- Voracek turns monster season into massive eight-year deal 71
- Report: Canucks, Sutter closing in on five-year deal, north of $20M 28
- Voynov serving sentence at jail that once advertised it had flat screen TVs 45
- Report: Bernier and Leafs more than $2 million apart ahead of Friday’s arbitration hearing 12
- Flyers re-sign Couturier: six years, $26 million 41
- Benning calls Sutter a ‘foundation piece’ for Canucks 24
- Here’s a chart that shows which teams have been good/bad at drafting 44
- Penguins sign Fehr to three-year, $6 million contract 22
- Bettman says NHL would have to ‘consider’ putting Quebec City in the Western Conference (71)
- Voracek turns monster season into massive eight-year deal (71)
- Rangers sign Stepan — six years, $39 million (62)
- NBC Sports to broadcast 105 NHL games in 2015-16 (58)
- Trade: Penguins send Sutter to Canucks for Bonino, Clendening (54)