Mikhail Grigorenko played 25 NHL games last season. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres youngster Mikhail Grigorenko ineligible for NHL Prospect Tournament

BUFFALO – Prospect Mikhail Grigorenko is ineligible for the 2013 NHL Prospect Tournament “because of the number of NHL games he was on the Sabres’ roster” last season, the team announced this afternoon, a day before play begins in Traverse City, Mich.

Grigorenko, who made 25 NHL appearances as a rookie in 2012-13, was arguably the biggest name on the 24-man roster the Sabres released for the eight-team tournament last month.

Two other youngsters on the roster – defensemen Mark Pysyk (19 games) and Chad Ruhwedel (seven) – skated in the NHL last season. According to one report, Pysyk won’t play, although he is eligible.

Grigorenko, the 12th overall pick in 2012, played sparingly, compiling one goal and five points while receiving minimal ice time.

The Sabres burned a year of the 19-year-old’s entry-level contract before sending him back to junior in March. Following his recall, they played him three more times, making him eligible for free agency a year earlier.

General manager Darcy Regier has said Grigorenko will be sticking with the Sabres in 2013-14. Many thought Traverse City would be an early opportunity for him to impress. Now he’s on the sidelines.

Still, the Sabres have plenty of intriguing talents participating.

Notable names on the Sabres’ roster include: 2011 first-round pick Joel Armia; 2012 first-rounder Zemgus Girgensons; 2013 first-rounders Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov.

Williamsville native Justin Bailey, a second-rounder this year, is also set to play.

Armia, a slick center, and Ristolainen, a hulking defenseman, have been playing against veteran talent in SM-liiga, a major European men’s league. These games could be the first steps toward making the Sabres’ opening-night roster.

Meanwhile, an impressive tournament might earn Eric Locke, a high-scoring junior center the Sabres picked in the seventh round this year, a professional contract for 2013-14.

The Sabres won the tournament in 2011. The NHL lockout forced its cancellation last year.

The round-robin tournament runs until Monday. The Sabres play Columbus at 4 p.m. Thursday.

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