BUFFALO – Don’t count on seeing Mikhail Grigorenko with the Sabres again this season. Heck, the enigmatic Russian center could be finished here less than three years after getting drafted 12th overall.
Grigorenko’s latest recall lasted one game, Friday’s 3-2 loss in Ottawa. The 20-year-old skated a couple of shifts on the second line before getting demoted to the fourth line. He was sent back down the next morning.
“I didn’t like his play,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said bluntly Monday following practice inside HarborCenter. “In order to play at this level, especially with that much skill, he has to bring a little bit more than what he had. You never want to sit back and hope for things will work. You got to make them work. …
“I thought his play on certain pucks was really lackadaisical. He didn’t have any energy or urgency in his game whatsoever. Hopefully, he’ll catch that one day.”
Say what you really feel, Ted.
Grigorenko, who was drafted by the team’s old regime, had plenty riding on the recall. He’ll be a restricted free agent after the season. The Sabres could simply trade his rights.
The youngster blew a great chance Friday. Sure, he was on an emergency recall, but that didn’t matter much, Nolan said.
“We could’ve argued and say, ‘Hey, let’s keep him here,’” Nolan said. “He didn’t give us enough of that to argue for.”
Nolan called Grigorenko’s performance “very surprising.”
“(There are) not too many chances this early in your career and this much opportunity,” he said. “Some of these guys are going to have 16 games to prove themselves, and you can’t come to the rink lackadaisical.”
Grigorenko’s compete level has been an issue for years. Don’t forget, he was terrific during the preseason and nearly earned a roster spot out of training camp. It appeared then something had finally clicked.
Now, Grigorenko could be stuck in Rochester, where he has 11 goals and 32 points in 39 games. He has only one goal and two points in 13 NHL games this season.
Sabres defensemen Zach Bogosian (leg) and Andrej Meszaros (head) missed practice Monday. Bogosian, who blocked an Alex Ovechkin shot on Saturday, could play Wednesday in Toronto, Nolan said. Meszaros will likely be out longer. The Sabres don’t plan to recall another defender right now.
“It’s not a sometimes thing,” Nolan said. “Phil Varone played well for spurts. But we need better than spurts. Larsson seems like a guy he’s been playing pretty consistent for the last number of games.”
Varone had a goal and an assist Friday.