Grigorenko's skill was apparent throughout the week of public workouts, highlighted by an assist and a shootout goal in Thursday's blue and gold scrimmage. The main question now is whether or not he can handle a professional load as an 18-year old. It's worth considering that just 90 days ago he was on the shelf with mono. It's fair to think he'll have more in the tank with continued strength and conditioning when the top club battles begin in September.
Grigorenko (6’3”, 200 lbs., 5/16/94) was selected by the Sabres with the 12th overall pick in the first-round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. He was the third-ranked North American skater and top North American center on NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings. The native of Khabarovsk, Russia is Buffalo’s highest forward selection since they took Thomas Vanek with the fifth overall pick in 2003.
In 2011-12, Grigorenko scored 85 points (40+45) while picking up just 12 penalty minutes for the Quebec Remparts in his first QMJHL season. He led all first-year players in the league in goals and points, and was second in regular-season assists. Despite only playing in 59 games, Grigorenko’s 40 goals and 85 points tied him for fifth and eighth place, respectively, among all players in the league.
A month ago Grigorenko, who immediately becomes one of the system's biggest forwards, and Zemgus Girgensons weren't even part of the Sabres organization. Now the team's offensive prospects have taken a major step forward. Couple the 2012 bounty with recently inked Joel Armia and the Sabres have themselves a nicely balanced troika for future scoring line duty.
Regardless of Grigorenko's skill level and chances of making the Sabres out of camp, where he plays next season may have more to do with the league's negotiations with the players association than anything else. Upon being picked in Pittsburgh, Grigorenko stated that he would return to Quebec City to play with Patrick Roy's Remparts for another year if he did not crack Buffalo's top roster. It seems the same would hold true if September 15th comes and goes without a new collective bargaining agreement being in place. Grigorenko won't be old enough to play in the AHL.
Along the same lines, the 2012 Traverse City tournament is tentatively scheduled to begin on September 14th. If the two sides are still at an impasse past an agreed to "drop dead date", there's a chance that the tournament could be cancelled, meaning the Sabres will need to wait a year to defend the crown.
Per TVA Sports, the Sabres reportedly followed up the Grigorenko deal by signing his former linemate and recent development camp invite Frederick Roy to a one-year AHL deal. The 5'10, 160-pound wing skated for the QMJHL's Quebec Remparts in 2011-12, finishing as the league's fourth leading scorer with 92 points (27+65) while earning the Guy Carbonneau Trophy as Defensive Player of the Year. A pesky competitor, Roy notched a pair of assists in the recent blue and gold scrimmage. He'll attend camp with the Rochester Americans this fall.