Since the Buffalo Sabres selected Mikhail Grigorenko 12th overall in 2012 there has been a lot of controversy surrounding Grigorenko. Actually even before he was drafted there was a ton of controversy. Grigorenko has been with or in the Sabres organization for 2 years and it’s safe to say the situation isn’t panning out the way many had hoped. So the question becomes why? Is it the Buffalo Sabres orMandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Take a look around the NHL right now, there are tons of young prospects prospering with their respective teams. Take a look the Calgary Flames 2013 first round pick Sean Monahan who already has 3 goals on the season. He’s their team MVP right now and a large reason why the Flames aren’t winless like the Sabres. What’s the difference between a player like Monahan who was taken 6th overall and is playing on a team equally as bad as the Sabres and Mikhail Grigorenko? Sure Grigorenko was taken 12th, but let’s remember he was projected to go inside the top 5. With more experience than Monahan, shouldn’t Grigorenko also be lighting it up?
Look at 19 year-old Tomas Hertl, who was drafted after Grigorenko in 2012, he put up 4 goals in a game the other night and already has 6 goals in just 3 games this season, where Grigorenko has 0.
But perhaps the most telling person to compare Grigorenko to is his own teammate and linemate, Zemgus Girgensons. The two were taken just two picks apart in the 2012 draft and while Grigorenko was ranked miles ahead, it’s Girgensons making a much better impact early on. Girgensons looks far more mature on the ice. He’s play with fire wanting to make a difference and as a result he’s got people excited for his future. Sure Girgensons isn’t scoring 4 goals a night, but he’s competing hard and battling to make a difference every night and that’s a great sign for a young player. Right now Girgensons is playing better and showing more potential. If Girgensons turned into the top-level prospect he is, in the same system Grigorenko is in, then what’s the problem?
Seriously, you have to take a step back and wonder if this is a Mikhail Grigorenko issue or something the Sabres are doing wrong with the yougnster?
Although completely different players, Grigorenko’s development is reminding me of Nazem Kadri‘s time with the Leafs. From day one there were people critical of Kadri and how long it took him to break into the NHL full-time. He’s been called lazy, mismanaged by management, heck they haven’t stopped throwing him under the buss and still he’s shown flashes of greatness. No matter what Kadri does there is always a negative story following him.
What’s in question with Grigorenko? His work-ethic and effort and you could come to the conclusion the Sabres have mismanaged him, especially last season after burning a year of his contract. Rolston said he is waiting for Grigorenko to show more of a competitive fire and to pick up his urgency and those were two of the knocks against him heading into the draft.
So why is a skilled player like Grigorenko not lighting up the NHL like other rookies? Is he being used wrong by the Sabres? I’m not of the notion he belongs on the first line and I think the third line is a good place for him right now, but could he benefit from other linemates? Is he lazy like people are say? Does he not want to succeed like other rookies? Could he use some more time in the Q? Is it time for Rolston to just put Grigorenko out there with Thomas Vanek and see what the two can do and what he can learn? Are the Sabres not giving him enough opportunity to succeed?
It’s evident that Grigorenko could use some time playing in the AHL, but unfortunately he can’t be sent there. Do the Sabres consider sending him back to the Q so he can get his mojo back and be a dominant player again? Or do they keep him up with the big club to play his way out of whatever funk he’s in and learn how to play in the NHL?
Fans of the Buffalo Sabres I’m asking, why is Mikhail Grigorenko having such a difficult time adjusting to life in the NHL? Is it Grigorenko or the Buffalo Sabres? Please leave your answer below and maybe we can figure out the puzzle that is Grigorenko together.