For those who did not attend, I got a huge problem with top prospect Mikhail Grigorenko after what I saw at the scrimmage at First Niagara Center. Mikhail Grigorenko, last year's 12th overall pick, centered the top line on Team Gold and had the chance to stand out amongst the other prospects. That is not what happened. Fellow first rounder Zemgus Girgensons centered the top line on Team Blue, and was put on the ice every time Grigorenko was. It was clear that Girgensons was there to dominate every aspect of the game no matter the cost. Every time you looked it seemed like Girgensons had the puck. He controlled the play and kept the puck in the opposition zone for most of the time he was out there. And the guy covering him was usually Grigorenko, who failed to take the puck from Girgensons almost every time and barely ever had the puck. When Grigorenko had the puck, Girgensons always pushed him off the puck and controlled the play. It was also evident that the skating between the two has an off the charts difference. Girgensons was clearly the best skater at the camp, and Grigorenko was one of the worst. Whats good to know is that the Sabres have provided Grigorenko with with a very good skating coach, who also helped John Tavares with his skating. The stats for the night showed the difference as Grigorenko was held pointless and had a minus 3, while Girgensons had a goal and 2 assists.
Other notables included Nikita Zadorov who took every opportunity to dish out hard hits. The most recent Sabre first round pick had at 2 bone crushing open ice hits and several nasty hits into the boards. He also moved the puck very well and came away with an assist on the first goal.
Justin Bailey was my player of the game. Gathering a goal and an assist along with several quality scoring chances, Bailey showed the true grit and talent that the great power forwards show in the league. He looked more mature then most of the players and took every opportunity to throw a hit. He also had the highlight of the night in the shootout. When his named was announced and he stepped onto the ice he got a standing O before he touched the puck. He then took the puck, with the crowd cheering in the background, brought the puck to his foot, kicked it back to his stick and then did a one handed goal to the opposite side. The crowd erupted for who looks to be a fan favorite as he is a hometown hero, and the power forward we've been looking for.
Others who played well include Dan Catenacci, Connor Knapp, and Phil Varone.
Ristolanein dosen't appear as though he will be ready this year as he did not stand out amongst the prospects.