In a first round where many teams loaded up on defense, the Buffalo Sabres grabbed two intriguing forward prospects in Zemgus Girgensons and Mikhail Grigorenko. With all due respect to “The Latvian Locomotive,” Grigorenko probably has the most potential to make a huge impact on the team. He also might make a solid first impression if his ode to a great former Buffalo Sabres forward works out, as Slava Malamud reports.
“Mikhail Grigorenko wants to know whether he can wear # 89 in Buffalo, in honor of his hometown hero Alex Mogilny.”
You don’t see enough No. 89’s in the NHL, really – especially guys who weren’t born in 1989.
Grigorenko isn’t just scoring nostalgic cool points, either. Many wonder about the depressingly oft-cited “Russian factor” with a guy like him.* Will a coach with a grating (OK, rough) style like Lindy Ruff’s rub him the wrong way? Grigorenko told Malamud that he’s OK with a rather “direct” approach.
“He’s a tough coach, but Roy wasn’t soft either,” Girgorenko said. “If a coach doesn’t demand a lot, he isn’t good coach.”
Last summer’s off-season splurge didn’t work as well as the Sabres hoped, but their recent youth movement is looking interesting. Grigorenko and Cody Hodgson are recent additions who might just be of the “blue chip” variety.
That being said, Grigorenko will need to produce some serious fireworks if he hopes to remind us of Mogilny in a more substantial way than wearing his number.
* Not just the transfer/KHL issues, but also the knee-jerk talk about “not caring.”