After wowing teammates and impressive head coach Lindy Ruff, Mikhail Grigorenko was informed on Friday he made the Buffalo Sabres roster to start the season.
“I’m real happy that I’m on an NHL team now,” Grigorenko told the Buffalo News. “I’m really excited and hopefully and I’m going to be playing.”
The official party line is the 18-year-old Russian is a “coach’s decision” to play on Sunday when the Sabres open their regular season campaign against Philadelphia. But it sounds though Grigorenko is almost certainly in.
More, from the Buffalo News:
Regier would only commit to Grigorenko being on the roster, saying it was a “coach’s decision” if he would play. But there were plenty of smirks in the room with Lindy Ruff standing nearby.
Grigorenko is centering Steve Ott and Ville Leino on Sunday, just as he has all week.
“I think we should keep him around little longer and then the coach will have to decide if he’s going to play him a lot,” Regier said.
Ruff said he’s been pleased with what he’s seen in training camp.
“Good playmaker,” Ruff said of Grigorenko. “He defends well for a young player. He’s defending against his teammates. You’d love the opportunity to see him in an NHL game against other players but he does have awareness. He understands the game.”
Leino has raved about Grigorenko, going so far as to compare him to his former Detroit teammate, Pavel Datsyuk.
“He would be awful tough to compare with Datsyuk because he’s one of the best players, that I would say, ever played,” Leino said. “But he’s definitely got some of that playmaking ability.”