Mikhail Grigorenko’s next appearance will be his sixth. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres still undecided on Grigorenko’s future

BUFFALO – For the time being at least, top prospect Mikhail Grigorenko is still with the Sabres.

The 18-year-old practiced this morning inside the First Niagara Center. It’s unclear whether he’ll play Tuesday against Toronto, the sixth appearance that would activate the first year of his entry-level contract.

“We don’t have to,” coach Lindy Ruff said today when asked if the Sabres had decided whether to keep the Russian or send him back to the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts.

Beyond the center’s play, which Ruff liked while skating him a career-high 17:10 during Sunday’s 3-2 loss in Washington, the Sabres are weighing several other factors.

“There’s lots of issues, and part of it is we’ve got issues at center with winning draws and the youth at center ice and whether Ville (Leino) can come back in and play,” Ruff said. “That’s all part of the discussions there with center ice.”

Does Grigorenko think he’s done enough to stick around?

“I’m not the coach,” the first-round pick said. “I will not decide if I stay or not. I think I did everything I could. I’ve done a lot of work.”

The Sabres could also scratch Grigorenko before his sixth game. Practice time and watching from the press box might be beneficial.

“That’s one of the considerations,” Ruff said about sitting Grigorenko. “I thought he held up very good in (Sunday’s) game, a great opportunity to score.”

Grigorenko understands all of the Sabres’ options.

“They could tell me today, they could tell me tomorrow, they could keep me for one week and practice,” Grigorenko said. “They could do a lot of things. So I’m ready for everything. Everything they will say, I would accept this.”

Grigorenko acknowledged “it’s hard but it’s OK” not knowing his fate.

“I’m trying hard not to think about it,” he said.

So far, Grigorenko’s pointless. Ruff thought he played his best game Sunday, though.

“I think he was good with the puck,” Ruff said. “Defensively, there’s some adjustment from the way they play in junior (to the) way we play. We’re working with him.”

Meanwhile, Ruff thinks winger Thomas Vanek (muscle strain) could play Tuesday after sitting in Washington. The Austrian, who already has three goals and nine points, skated during this morning’s optional workout.

“I would say I’m optimistic about him playing,” Ruff said.

In other injury news, Leino, who’s battling a hip problem, hasn’t skated in about a week. Despite some new treatment, “Progress seems slow,” Ruff said.

“He’s just in the ‘OK’ category,” the coach said.

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7 thoughts on “Sabres still undecided on Grigorenko’s future”

  1. I really hope they leave Grigorenko with the team. I feel he’s been getting better every game; he’s getting close to scoring his first. He has nothing more to prove in the minors.

  2. Bill I think the Sabres should keep him up and give him 2nd line minutes, or at least play him with offensively competent players. Playing with John Scott will do nothing for him. He’s shown flashes, and has been nowhere the defensive liability Hodgson has been.

  3. I think it’s clear we’re lacking offense outside our top line. If we’re trying to win this season we cannot send him down, just based on potential. Grigorenko is outplaying Foligno and Stafford already and seems to be trending up in a admittedly limited sample. Sending him down would be equivalent to trading Vanek for three first round draft picks – it might eventually benefit the team but it shows our priorities are winning in the future, not winning now.

  4. Trade Ennis and a Dman for a quality shutdown 3rd line center, and give grigo the 2nd line center job with real minutes. he clearly has the talent and although i love ennis for his playmaking, he just gets shoved off the puck too much.

  5. Too many fans already abandoning ship, the kid is 18 years old, he has just played his first five games coming out of a lockout might I add, give the kid some time to adjust to the speed of the game. I feel Lindy needs to find some chemistry with line mates with him. Him being on the 4th line with Big John Scott is not gonna improve his play or his point production. Dont get me wrong I love addition of John Scott. The kid has nothing more to prove in the Juniors that is clear. People up here throwing up garbage trades, no reason to sell the farm because we lost 3 in a row. The kid needs to stay and Lindy needs to start using him as a potential star player. I dont wanna sound like a back seat driver or couch coach but let Lindy do his thing, he sure as hell knows more about Hockey than the rest of us do. GO SABRES!

  6. I say send him back unless he can help now. He’s proven so far that he cannot and at this point, it seems like all he’s doing is eating up a roster spot for… I don’t know, someone who might be able to win a face-off every once in a while. (Hmm, maybe trading away Gaustad wasn’t such a good idea after all.)

    That, coupled with 0 points in 5 games (wasn’t he supposed to be strongest in the goal-scoring department?), says it all. There’s no point wasting a roster spot on a guy who’s simply not quite ready to be here. He’s almost ready, but not quite. Ideally, he’d be in the AHL now, but the AHL doesn’t allow under-20s, so he’ll have to stay in juniors.

  7. I think you have to think long term on this decision. Will this team win now? No. How much benefit is there to keeping him if he isn’t used properly? Plus wasting a year on a 48 game season where there is little chance of winning it all seems like a waste to me. Send him back down, let him get the minutes and confidence, then give him a shot at a full season next year.

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