The Buffalo Sabres have been a woeful mess to start the 2013-14 NHL season. While no one expected this squad to win the Stanley Cup, things weren’t supposed to be this bad either. One of the possible bright lights heading into the season was Mikhail Grigorenko, who was coming back to town after a disappointing 2013 campaign that saw Buffalo ship him back to juniors despite burning a year off of his entry-level contract.
The way that Grigorenko has been playing, the Sabres won’t have to worry about giving him much of a raise in two years regardless.
The former 12th-overall selection has been scratched twice so far in this young season, and it’s done nothing to fire up the typically lackadaisical forward. Grigorenko played one more minute than enforcer John Scott did on Thursday night against the Vancouver Canucks.
That right there should tell you all you need to know about where this player-coach relationship has gone.
Buffalo believed they had an outright steal when Grigorenko fell to them at No. 12 at the 2012 draft. It was believed that he possessed All-Star talent, but a grinch-like heart when it came to the grittier and finer parts of the game. So far, Grigorenko has done nothing to shed that reputation.
Still, he’s one of the most talented players on Buffalo’s roster, and it’s only a matter of time before he’s playing top-six minutes and putting up some points. The Edmonton Oilers are dealing with a similar situation with Nail Yakupov, and no one is expecting him to finish the season with only three goals and a minus-132 rating.
Grigorenko will get his game legs going eventually, and the Sabres will be all the better for it.