Skip to content

Sabres’ Grigorenko: ‘No one’s fault but mine that I didn’t go into the NHL’

Jul 15, 2014, 6:25 PM EDT

Mikhail Grigorenko Getty Images

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.”

source: Getty ImagesAfter 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.

Latest Posts
  1. Evander Kane: I know I can score 50 goals

    Sep 19, 2014, 11:01 PM EDT

    Evander Kane AP

    The Winnipeg Jets would settle for far less after he scored just 19 last season.

  2. Tom Wilson (broken leg) not sure when he’ll return

    Sep 19, 2014, 10:03 PM EDT

    Tom Wilson Getty Images

    The last thing he wants is to suffer a setback by rushing his recovery.

  3. ‘C’-less Thornton comes out swing against Wilson’s ‘tomorrow team’ talk

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:37 PM EDT

    TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 3: Joe Thornton #19 of the San Jose Sharks skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on December 3, 2013 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Sharks defeated the Leafs 4-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

    That’s not the only summer statement he took exception to.

  4. Video: Grieving Ryan Suter talks about his late father

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:04 PM EDT

    uwbadgersbobsuter

    Bob Suter was a defenseman on the “Miracle on Ice” team.

  5. Desjardins: Canucks comfortable carrying three goalies

    Sep 19, 2014, 8:02 PM EDT

    Jacob Markstrom Getty Images

    That usually doesn’t end well, but this might be an exception.

  6. Clowe ‘advised’ to fight less, not sure he will

    Sep 19, 2014, 6:59 PM EDT

    CloweDevils Getty Images

    He suffered three concussions in under a year.

  7. Orpik heard good things ‘human-being wise’ about Trotz

    Sep 19, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

    Brooks Orpik Getty Images

    It’s part of the reason why the defenseman is playing for Washington.

  8. Joe Sakic’s now general manager in name too

    Sep 19, 2014, 4:17 PM EDT

    Joe Sakic Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations of the Colorado Avalanche addresses the media as Patrick Roy is introduced as the new Head Coach/Vice President of Hockey Operations of the Colorado Avalanche during a press conference at the Pepsi Center on May 28, 2013 in Denver, Colorado.
(May 27, 2013 - Source: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

    Greg Sherman stayed on as his assistant.

  9. Kyle Palmieri out at least two weeks with high ankle sprain

    Sep 19, 2014, 3:33 PM EDT

    kylepalmierigetty Getty Images

    He’s not the only member of the Ducks that’s hurting.

  10. Doughty (upper body) listed as day-to-day

    Sep 19, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    Drew Doughty Getty Images

    Held out of Kings’ on-ice activities on Friday.

  11. Sakic says Avs ownership gave ‘green light’ to ‘make this team win’

    Sep 19, 2014, 2:06 PM EDT

    Joe Sakic AP

    “We’re a cap team now, despite us being in the bottom five of the league in ticket revenue.”

  12. Update: Giroux out two weeks with lower-body injury

    Sep 19, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Claude Giroux Getty Images

    Flyers captain currently being evaluated.

  13. Nuge must ‘step up’ for Oilers, who are thin down the middle

    Sep 19, 2014, 1:21 PM EDT

    Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Getty Images

    “We have two NHL centermen right now,” said Dallas Eakins.

  14. Blues invite Ryan Whitney to camp

    Sep 19, 2014, 1:09 PM EDT

    whitneyryangetty Getty Images

    Just like they did last year.

  15. NHL GMs sympathize with Jackets on Johansen situation

    Sep 19, 2014, 12:31 PM EDT

    Davidson

    But most of them wouldn’t have gone public with the negotiations.

  16. In final contract year, Hartley unfazed by lack of new deal

    Sep 19, 2014, 11:59 AM EDT

    Bob Hartley AP

    What does his future hold in Calgary?

  17. Coyotes GM: We can’t ‘match up, No. 1 line to No. 1 line, with many teams in the West’

    Sep 19, 2014, 11:07 AM EDT

    Don Maloney AP

    “But maybe we can control the top lines and outperform the lower lines.”

  18. Ducks GM hoping ‘the kids’ can get it done in goal

    Sep 19, 2014, 10:56 AM EDT

    John Gibson Getty Images

    “I’m sure they’re up to the task.”

Sign up for Fantasy hockey

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. J. Quick (1192)
  2. B. Schenn (1098)
  3. N. Horton (969)
  4. R. McDonagh (956)
  5. B. Bishop (935)