Amerks assignment gives Grigorenko another, better, chance to succeed

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The second time around in Rochester is the best chance yet for Mikhail Grigorenko to show us what he's got.

In his short career, Mikhail Grigorenko has had three cracks at the professional ranks, and so far none of them have gone very well for the young center. There was his rookie year where he was signed to his entry level contract and kept in Buffalo out of desperation by Darcy Regier, there was his two-game stint in Rochester during last season's Calder Cup playoffs, and there was the beginning of this season, where he was once again kept in Buffalo for reasons that basically boiled down to "because we might as well".

None of those three situations were successful for Grigorenko, partly because none of the three gave him the time and tools he needed to be successful. The AHL is always where the struggling center has belonged - he's too talented to stay in the junior leagues, where he earned 39 points in 23 games this season, but needs to learn how to play against men in a league that's not quite as big a jump from the QMJHL as the NHL, where he has just eight points in 43 career games.

He did get one chance to play in Rochester....for two games. When Quebec's season ended last year, Grigorenko was assigned to Rochester for the team's final two playoff games, both losses to the Toronto Marlies. Grigorenko looked lost, but then again my first two days at my last new job weren't the greatest either.

This time around, Grigorenko is getting some time to adjust to a new team, city, system, and new teammates before being potentially thrown into the playoffs. Rochester has nine games to go before the end of the season, and Grigorenko will give the struggling Amerks some much needed offensive punch, as will the return of some injured players. Rochester has been on a slide as of late, losing nine in a row and tumbling all the way to tenth in the Western Conference, and five points out of a playoff spot.

Even if Rochester fails to make the playoffs, a nine-game tryout in a playoff-like atmosphere will be a good start for Grigorenko, who will likely begin next season with the Amerks. He's had a very up-and-down young career, and the Sabres are certainly to blame for some of that, but now is the time for Grigorenko to show the Sabres, and Amerks, that he's grown as a player and can contribute against better competition that what he sees in the Q.

It's not his first chance to succeed in the pros, but so far, this is Grigorenko's best chance.

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