BUFFALO – General manager Tim Murray knows 21-year-old center Mikhail Grigorenko is frustrated the Sabres are offering a two-way contract. The restricted free agent dislikes the deal so much he’s reportedly fielding offers from the KHL, a league in his native Russia.
“I hear rumors,” Murray said this morning inside the First Niagara Center.
Clearly, the Sabres and Grigorenko’s camp have vastly different opinions of the youngster, the No. 12 pick in 2012.
“We feel he needs time in the minors, whether that’s 10 games, a half a year, whatever it is,” Murray said. “That will depend on what kind of summer he has.”
Grigorenko, who has six goals and 14 points in 68 NHL games, wants a one-way deal.
“They tell me he’s ready to play,” Murray said. “I don’t know why they’d be afraid of a two-way contract. I’m baffled, actually.”
In Murray’s opinion, if Grigorenko’s camp thinks he’s an NHL talent, a two-way contract doesn’t matter. He’ll stick in the league if he’s good enough. If not, the Sabres must waive Grigorenko – Murray believes he could be claimed – to send him to Rochester.
“If he is what he thinks he is, he’s in the NHL, in my opinion, just not in Buffalo,” Murray said. “We’re not arguing by any means. It just a difference of opinion on a qualifying offer that has an AHL component to it versus a one-way deal.”
Murray, who said Grigorenko has never told him he wants to pursue the KHL, hasn’t lost faith in the youngster.
“Does he have the ability to be an NHL player down the road if he does things right? Absolutely,” he said.
Murray, of course, could also change his mind about the offer.
“At this point, I haven’t changed my mind,” he said. “We’re leaning toward qualifying him.”
In other news, winger Cody Hodgson, who endured a brutal six-goal, 13-point season, is still a buyout candidate, Murray said. The period began today and ends June 30.
“We’ve discussed it with Cody based on the year he had,” Murray said. “In saying that, I’ve been in contact with his agent.”
Hodgson is currently working in Sweden “trying to improve,” Murray said.