Unimpressed by Grigorenko

Anytime a player is ranked in the top 3 and is projected to be taken in the top 5 in an NHL draft then falls outside the top 10 there’s a problem. A lot of people wrote of Mikhail Grigorenko‘s fall to 12th in the 2012 draft, but the more I see him play the more I’m beginning to understand why the Russian centre fell to 12th and the Buffalo Sabres.

Mikhail Grigorenko made the Sabres out of training camp last season (if you can even call it training camp) and played enough to

Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

waste a year of his entry-level contract, problem is he didn’t play well or at least not as well as one would have expected. He scored just 1 goal in 25 games with the Sabres last season, but most people chalked it up to him being a young rookie. Now in his “2nd” season and first full training camp, Grigorenko isn’t looking much better.

It was a big mistake for Darcy Regier to announce that the Sabres would be keeping Grigorenko in Buffalo all season because he’s playing like a kid with nothing to prove. He’s not trying and looks absolutely invisible out there on the ice and although it’s only preseason, he is facing off against a lot of young OHL and AHL guys. If he can’t look dominate right now, then there’s a problem. Based on everything we’ve seen from Grigorenko through preseason there is absolutely no way this kid deserves a spot on the Sabres roster, he hasn’t earned it and as a result he may be watching a few games from the press box. I can’t see how the Sabres can give Grigorenko – who hasn’t shown up for preseason – a spot over a kid like Zemgus Girgensons, who is playing his tail off for a spot on the roster.

Grigorenko has absolutely no right to take the preseason off or to play as badly as he has been. He’s still by all accounts a rookie and needs to be working hard like Girgensons, Armia and Johan Larsson to earn his spot on the Sabres. Instead you barely notice the Buffalo Sabres former first round pick, if he doesn’t improve his game, he’ll be another pick who doesn’t live up to their potential.

The knock on Grigorenko – why he fell so low – was his work effort. A lot of teams felt that he was a lazy player and through the preseason he’s living up to that reputation. If you’re not going to score at least help out on defence, Grigorenko has looked horrible on the back-check as well. Unless a player slows down and skates right beside or into Grigorenko, he doesn’t make any effort to check them at all. He also hasn’t been trying very hard on offence when he doesn’t have the puck, unless it comes easy for him he isn’t interested. There’s a lot of things Grigorenko needs to learn before he becomes a star for the Sabres, he needs to learn to give it his all every night and every shift both on offence and defence.

At this point in his career, Grigorenko isn’t mature enough or ready for NHL hockey. It is really hurting his development that he can’t be sent down to Rochester where he could learn to be a pro and prove himself. If a prospect isn’t pushed or expected to earn a spot, they won’t try and they won’t develop. Look at the Leafs and Nazem Kadri, that organization put him through the ringer and while it wasn’t always fair, Kadri had to earn every minute of ice-time with the Leafs and look at him now. It’s time to knock the sense of entitlement out of Grigorenko and make him earn a spot on the Buffalo Sabres. It should be a privilege and an honour to wear the blue and gold not a right just because you were drafted. There’s other guys trying harder through camp, who seem to be hungrier for a spot.

Maybe I’m expecting too much, but I’ve been extremely disappointed by what I’ve seen out of Grigorenko thus far in his young career. I expected a more determined player who would give it his all every night and score some great goals. Mikhail Grigorenko has not done enough to actually earn a spot on the Sabres, and it’s a shame that he’ll be given one for such a poor effort. He’s still has time to learn how to play in the NHL and hopefully a Steve Ott or even Cody Hodgson can mentor the kid and teach him so that he can maximize his full potential. But so far he’s been quite unimpressive.

Topics: Buffalo Sabres, Mikhail Grigorenko, NHL

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  • qwicwted

    Cat, I agree with you on this one. I wanted Rolston to have a wide open training camp – where everyone competed for their jobs. Its a given that Vanek, Hodgson, Leino, Ott and Ennis have their spots- but Grigorenko has no more push than Armia, Larsson and Girgensens. Grigorenko has had a taste of the NHL and you would think he wants to remain on the roster- but based on his performance I would rather have one of the “kids” who I already know is going to make mistakes, but give 125%.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      Thanks for the read- I would much rather see a Girgensons or Larsson or even Armia in his place because of their effort. I really wish other than the locks it would have been an open preseason/training camp. Grigorenko still has to prove himself so he needs to be trying much harder.

  • JerrySabresFan

    I don’t think anyone can argue that there needs to be a little more from him. BUT! I’d like to just remind people that(from what I understand) this young man stayed in Buffalo over the summer using staff and facilities to work on his game – mainly his skating. He does want to be successful here. I think it’s possible that he’s still in adjustment phase of having new/different responsibilities. Hopefully the learning curve comes sooner than later.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      He looks to be having trouble with the learning curve of the NHL, which is why it truely sucks he can’t head down to the AHL. I really want to see him succeed.

  • davidmuscalo

    This is just another case of Regier interfering with his coach. He should never had stated that Grigorenko will be playing in Buffalo this season. He should have stated that Grigorenko will be given every opportunity to earn (an increasingly rare word in this age of entitlements that aren’t really entitlements but rather dharity) a position on the Sabres this season. You can’t blame Grigorenko for taking the preseason off. Hopefully, he will try harder when the season starts.

    This is just another instance demonstrating that Regier needs to go. I know I am preaching to the choir when making that statement, but I believe if enough of us keep pushing, Terry will take off the blinders at some point and begin to listen and then do what he should have done when is bought the team.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      Was a BIG mistake for Regier to state that Grigorenko had the team already made… you never tell a kid that.

  • erico

    are you guys serious? already criticizing grigorenkos play. Hes played 2 very strong games already. He had an off night last night. every player has it. give him time. its only preseason. Hes already set a personal goal with getting 50ish points. he will be fine

    • Caitlin Campbell

      I haven’t seen him play 2 strong games… I’ve seen him play maybe 1 solid game but other than that he’s coasted through the preseason. Setting a goal of 50 points and hitting that are two completely different things.

  • wolfdoctor

    Darcy blew it last year and he’s blowing it again this year. Grigorenko belongs in the juniors.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      He definitely needs some time to develop his game further

  • Jes

    I dunno what your so disappointed about? He was highly touted but him slipping to 12th overall wasn’t because of his skill. Actually it had absolutely nothing to do with his skill level or anything of that nature. One of the huge reasons why Grigorenko dropped pretty low was because of him being Russian and the obvious threat of the KHL. That’s basically why Nichuskin wasn’t a top 5 pick. Also he had mono that summer and the question about his “true age” were being asked. He’s a rookie. They take time to develop. He’s not gonna be like a Crosby or Stamkos just contributing from the start. Give him a few years at least. It was a shortened season last year and no training camp and during the season guy gets put on a line with Scott and Kaleta? Put him on a line with some actual players that are there to score and have more than 3-4 mins of ice time a game. Last nights game is last nights game. It’s preseason and it means absolutely nothing. Lots of players who preform great in the preseason go on to do absolutely nothing in the upcoming season.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      I’m aware that he had mono during the end of his season around the draft but whether you like it or not one of the knocks on him was his work-ethic and that’s pretty concerning. I’m aware that he’s no Crosby, but he’s also not as bad as he’s looking throughout preseason. I’ve seen players like Crosy and Stamkos with far less to prove, give more effort during preseason games.
      For a young kid and a rookie, he should be busting his tail during the preseason like the other rookies.

      • Jes

        I don’t believe that was a knock on him? If you have a link to that I’d love to see it. I believe the only work ethic part that you may be talking about is his performance in the playoffs when he came back from mono and didn’t do good at all.

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  • ralphie

    I have to agree. when I saw him play last season, he looked like he was lost and skating in sand.