There’s one name that has been surrounded with controversy this past season with the Buffalo Sabres. That man, is Mikhail Grigorenko. The number one draft pick for the Sabres had very high expectations placed upon him. The way some people wrote about him, I have expected him to show up in a cape, looking like a super hero. He could do no wrong according to some.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Several things. How about the fact that no one asked the key question; Is Mikhail Grigorenko ready for NHL hockey?
It was apparent after 5 games. No points. Didn’t really set the world on fire at all with the Sabres. 25 games, 1 goal, 4 assists. I’ve made my point on this repeatedly, that after his first 5 games, Darcy should have sent Grigorenko back to Quebec. Instead, he thought it was a better idea to waste part of his rookie contract, and pay him for poor play.
So let’s not harp on that.
How about the fact that everyone seemed to handle this guy with kid gloves for the whole season?
I’m not here to pamper the players. Grigorenko obviously was not ready for NHL caliber hockey. He should have been in Quebec for another season, and then after their season ended, shipped off to Rochester. He shouldn’t have even stopped in Buffalo. I don’t care about how well he did in Quebec. I care about how well he does for the Sabres. He did not deliver for Buffalo.
But most seem to ignore that fact.
I heard several times that he should have been given an opportunity on the power play. Why? Did he demonstrate any phenomenal scoring ability at the NHL level? He didn’t? Then why would we put him on a power play that clearly struggles to begin with. I like Rolston’s approach, you want time on the power play, earn it. Want more ice time? EARN IT. Grigorenko didn’t do that, but no one focused on that.
It was way more important to hype the living daylights out of his play in Quebec.
Again, that’s great about his time in Quebec. That’s the juniors, this is the NHL. I care about what he does in Buffalo, not in Quebec.
So what does next season hold for Grigorenko?
I’m praying that it holds a season of Rochester Amerks hockey. I think that this will be the best way to develop him and undo the mess from Darcy’s moronic leanings. Grigorenko is clearly not NHL ready, and Rolston knows that. I think that if Grigorenko stays in Buffalo this season, he’ll be riding the bench a lot. So, put him with the Amerks, and see what comes of it. I think that if he had a full season in Rochester, it’ll do him a lot of good. Grigorenko can grow, develop, and demonstrate that he wants to be in Buffalo, and can bring his skills to the NHL level.
There’s one more problem when people keep talking about Grigorenko and the Sabres top draft pick;
Buffalo drafted another guy in the first round too.
I was very skeptical when I saw that he had decided to not go play for the University of Vermont, and was headed to Rochester. However, he really progressed as the AHL season went on. After going to several Amerks games, I saw this player improve, and even learn time on the top line for the Amerks. He was also doing a very good job on the penalty kill. Girgensons demonstrated that he wanted to improve, did so, and earned time on a better line.
I also liked what I saw in the AHL playoffs. While the Amerks were very quickly eliminated, he scored 3 of Rochesters 5 total goals, and was the leading scorer for the team in their brief playoff stint.
While Girgensons didn’t put up huge numbers in his rookie season with the Amerks, he definitely improved, and demonstrated that he could get better at a professional level. Remember, hockey isn’t just about scoring goals. He’s a very good two way player who I hope will have a big scoring boost next season. I definitely see him in Buffalo next season. He’s the type of two way center that Buffalo is in desperate need of.
Grigorenko and Girgensons both have a ton of potential, but need to develop. Very rarely can someone come onto the scene and blow people’s minds away. Both players are still not ready for the big dance in the NHL.
I think Girgensons is just about ready now. Grigorenko still needs some time.
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As Always, Thanks for reading!