The Buffalo Sabres prospects are currently competing in the Traverse City tournament, and while things aren't going great as of yet (the Sabres have lost their first two games, one in OT), one positive note came out regarding a player who isn't involved in the tournament - Mikhail Grigorenko.
ESPN and Hockey Prospectus writer Corey Pronman caught up with Sabres GM Tim Murray, and asked him about the most misused product in the Buffalo pipeline. Grigorenko has been constantly shuffled back and forth between Buffalo and Quebec as well as the first to fourth line over the past few seasons, and Murray gave an answer that should comfort Sabres fans.
Talked to Tim Murray about Grigorenko. Discussed how he hasn't gotten the ice time he needs last two seasons. Says has to be on a top 6 & PP— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) September 13, 2014
Murray said Grigorenko may need to take one step back (scoring ice time in AHL) to take two steps forward.— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) September 13, 2014
Grigorenko will play next year in Rochester, and while that's one step back from his previous seasons in the NHL, the Amerks will allow Grigorenko to play where he belongs - on a top line with talented players. One of the worst parts about the Sabres misuse of their first round pick were his linemates; Grigorenko would constantly be a third or fourth liner under Lindy Ruff and Ron Rolston, playing with some of the least talented men on the team. And while his effort and production didn't warrant automatic first line minutes, he's the type of talent that needs to be playing with people who can take advantage of his elite positioning, passing, and vision.
One of the most exciting things about this upcoming hockey season will be following the development of the Rochester Amerks such as Grigorenko, Joel Armia, and perhaps Rasmus Ristolainen. Tim Murray will undoubtedly be watching as well, because at this point a Grigorenko transformation equates to found money for the Sabres. We'll be sure to bring back our Amerks reports this year courtesy of Stephanie, and Grigorenko will surely be one of the major focuses. Let's hope he can show Sabres management that he was indeed worthy of that first round pick.