BUFFALO – History is repeating itself. Just like last season, Sabres center Mikhail Grigorenko’s ice time dropped dramatically in his fourth appearance.
On Tuesday, the 19-year-old Russian played only 8:07, down from the 12:30 he had been averaging. The prospect even skated several shifts on the fourth line during the 3-2 overtime loss to Tampa Bay.
“Just putting the people in the right situations,” Sabres coach Ron Rolston said this afternoon following practice inside the First Niagara Center. “The matchup wasn’t good.”
He might not get any matchup Thursday against Columbus. Grigorenko spent part of today’s session filling in for Cody Hodgson between Steve Ott and Thomas Vanek, a sign he could be scratched.
Grigorenko’s slick skill set is apparent just by watching him practice a few minutes. But so far, that hasn’t translated into game action.
“You have to find a way to be an impact in a game,” Rolston said. “It’s his ability to put himself in positions where he can use those skills. So that means you got to go to the puck. You got to get the puck. You got to support the puck. You got to be around the puck. You got to battle for the puck. You can stickhandle in a phone booth. That doesn’t really translate unless you can be an impact in a game.
“He’s a young player. He’s still learning those things and … how to be impactful at this level.”
Grigorenko’s pointless this season and has one goal and five points in 29 NHL games.
When his ice time first dipped last season, he started receiving more fourth-line duty or getting scratched. Eventually, the Sabres sent him back to junior before recalling him again.
Grigorenko deserves to be in the NHL, Rolston said.
“He’s got the ability,” Rolston said.
Grigorenko centered John Scott and Patrick Kaleta some of Tuesday after starting the game with Zemgus Girgensons and Brian Flynn.