NHL Rookie Watch: Mikhail Grigorenko – Buffalo Sabres

Scouting Report

Date of birth: 05/16/1994
Pos: C
Age: 18
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 200
Shoots: Left
Drafted: 1st round, 12th overall in 2012 by Buffalo


Despite the excitement in Buffalo after it was learned that the 18-year-old Russian would be spending the season with the big club, it’s been slow going thus far.  Grigorenko hasn’t made much of an impact and has spent almost all of his minimal ice time on the bottom 2 lines.

What are the problems?  He isn’t skating well, can’t hold onto the puck, misfires on his shots, and is often too slow to get into proper position.

The good news is that he’s a likeable, coachable young man who has shown some flashes of soft hands in the offensive zone.  At some point, the potential needs to translate to points.


The Good: Grigorenko is an exceptionally gifted prospect whose ceiling is as good as it comes. He’s a well above-average puck-handler with elite hockey sense. Those two abilities translate to off-the-charts puck possession skill as he can simple dazzle with his puck control and playmaking skills, showing a unique ability to make plays. Grigorenko is also a good skater who accelerates well. He has an impressive shot, and while he’s a passer, he can finish from mid-distance.

The Bad: Despite his size, Grigorenko is not all that physical, although he can still win some battles. His defense needs some work although it’s notably improved from last season. His shift-to-shift work ethic has been raised from scouts as an issue although I only see it as a minor one.

Projection: He could be one of the league’s best centers.


Mikhail holds a filled-in frame at 6’3, has soft hands and though the gifted Russian does not possess blazing speed, is yet an economical skater. Grigorenko has advanced vision and strong playmaking skills, as displayed often in the QMJHL with the Quebec Remparts. As a 17 year old Mikhail showed finesse, scoring a sizzling 40 goals & 85 points, leading many scouts to initially pin him as a challenger to countryman Nail Yakupov for the #1 overall selection in the 2012 draft. While treading around the top three projections for months, Grigorenko surprisingly fell out of the top 10 due to criticisms surrounding a lack of desire and willingness to venture into tough areas. This may well prove a boon for Buffalo in stealing a potential marquee talent, who’s since improved his overall game in junior during the lockout, prompting then Sabres coach, Lindy Ruff, to have him break camp with the parent club.

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VIDEO: Mikhail Grigorenko scores first NHL goal 1/29/13


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