Buffalo - September 16, 2014 - The last two years have been rough on Mikhail Grigorenko.
The once-vaunted prospect had all the potential in the world and was ready to make an impact with the Sabres right out of junior hockey for the 2012-13 season. Then the season started and Grigorenko didn’t. He played poorly, was shuffled all over the lineup and eventually put in the press box.
His 2013-14 campaign didn’t go any better. He struggled in 18 games with Buffalo, hit a snag in regards to being sent back down to his junior club and eventually found his way to Rochester to end the season. Once considered the best Sabres’ prospect in the system, it’s now being wondered loudly by many whether he’ll even see the NHL again.
But those asking that question can stop. It’s ridiculous to call him a bust right now and it’d be even more ridiculous to give up on the 20-year-old center. Grigorenko isn’t the only player from the 2012 draft to not make an impact. Griffin Reinhart has yet to see the NHL. Filip Forsberg has been up and down between the AHL and NHL. Simply put: some guys need time.
Grigorenko is still an offensive talent. In his 23 games last season with Quebec of the QMJHL, he scored 15 goals and 24 assists. Now, it’s time for him to prove that he can score above the junior level.
In Rochester, Grigorenko showed some promise despite not scoring a goal in the nine games he played in. He’s looked stronger as a playmaker and all-around player, something that definitely could not be said of his time in Buffalo.
He’ll start the year there and arguably should have been put on a path where this season would have been his first year of professional hockey. But the past is the past and there’s no changing it. This year in Rochester, he’ll be given top-six minutes and likely power play time to prove that he can be the dynamic offensive presence on the next level. Now it’s just up to him to progress and develop.
“From past experience I realized it’s probably no one’s fault but mine that I didn’t go into the NHL. If I want to play in the best league in the world, it’s just on me. No one’s going to make me play just because I was drafted in the first round” ~ Mikhail Grigorenko.
Grigorenko has traveled a tough road to get to this point, but the future is still bright for the young Russian pivot. Now it’s time to prove it.
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When not inanely bantering about the Sabres, Ryan Womeldorf can be found here and at TwoPadStack.net talking all things hockey. He's usually got a lot to say, but sadly most of it is wrong. If you have any questions, feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org