Tag: Darcy Regier

Mikhail Grigorenko

Sabres’ Grigorenko: ‘No one’s fault but mine that I didn’t go into the NHL’


BUFFALO — When the Buffalo Sabres selected Mikhail Grigorenko with the 12th overall selection in 2012, many wondered if the team was taking a risk on a player whom many scouts differed on just how good he would be.

Since then, Grigorenko has started off the past two seasons in Buffalo only to be sent back to his junior team, the Quebec Remparts. The 20-year-old Russian forward is currently in the midst of his third prospect camp with the Sabres and knows he has a lot to prove this year. He also knows where to lay some of the blame for not sticking with the big club.

“From past experience I realized it’s probably no one’s fault but mine that I didn’t go into the NHL,” Grigorenko said at First Niagara Center on Tuesday. “If I want to play in the best league in the world, it’s just on me. No one’s going to make me play just because I was drafted in the first round. I just have to go out there and be the best.”

Being the best is something the Sabres have been eager to witness. In his abbreviated stints with the team the past two seasons, he’s scored three goals and added five assists in 43 games. In Quebec it’s been a different story.

Grigorenko has excelled against players his own age the past two seasons. In 56 games with the Remparts he scored 45 goals with 93 points. This season he’ll either be with the Rochester Americans in the AHL or Buffalo – a challenge he’s eager to accept.

“It’s going to be good for me to play against men for sure this year,” he said. “I’m really excited for this year. I’m pretty sure I’m going to get way better than I did last year.”

His time in Buffalo has come at an awkward point for the organization. He’s played for three different head coaches with Lindy Ruff, Ron Rolston, and Ted Nolan. With Tim Murray replacing Darcy Regier as general manager, it’s almost an entirely different organization. Throw in the coaches he’s played for with Quebec, Team Russia at World Juniors, and in the AHL with the Rochester Americans that’s a lot of different voices telling him what to do.

“It’s pretty tough,” Grigorenko admitted. “Learning the new strategies and some coaches like you more, some coaches like you less. You have different roles in each team you play for, I was lucky enough that all the coaches were all really nice to me. I thought every single coach I had tried to help me to be a better hockey player and a better person.”

source: Getty ImagesAfter all he’s seen and gone through in his professional career to this point, you’d think he might have too much going through his head to help him become the dynamic offensive player the Sabres are hoping he’ll blossom into. That’s an issue he’s worked on to fix, but the pressure to perform in the NHL is clearly there.

“I need to think a little less,” Grigorenko said. “I just have to want the puck and go in on every single battle and want the puck. I’m an offensive player so I just need to score goals. I have to bring the offense. If I don’t score goals and don’t have points then I guess no one needs me on the team now.”

Grigorenko will look to earn a spot with the Sabres at training camp in September. He came into prospect camp at 218 pounds, up 10 pounds from last year, he said. He also credits skating instructor Dawn Braid for helping him get his stride and technique straightened out.

If all of those adjustments to his game and seemingly to his approach off the ice work out, the Sabres will have a potentially dangerous offensive weapon as part of their rebuild.

Remembering when Buffalo signed Ville Leino

Ville Leino

It was almost three years ago the Buffalo Sabres signed Ville Leino to a six-year, $27 million dollar contract. After 137 games, 10 goals, and 46 points today is the first day teams can buy out players and it’s expected Leino will be one of them.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this for the 30-year-old Finnish forward.

He signed his big deal in Buffalo after a career-year with the Philadelphia Flyers. In 81 regular season games he had 19 goals and 53 points.

That big season came on the heels of his 2010 playoffs performance in which he helped lead the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final after scoring seven goals with 21 points in 19 games before the Flyers were bounced out of the Final by the Chicago Blackhawks. As Bill Hoppe of the Olean Times Herald recalled, the Sabres were sky-high on Leino after signing him in 2011.

“We felt very strongly about Ville, and we felt it was important to make sure we didn’t allow a quality player to slip by us,” Regier said.

That’s now former Sabres GM Darcy Regier. Former Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was similarly eager to get him into action, but it just hasn’t worked.

In three seasons in Buffalo he hasn’t scored as many goals or points as he did in one season in Philly and is now likely about to be sent packing with a $7.3 million farewell check.

It just goes to show you, sometimes answers aren’t always easily found in free agency.

‘Yotes notes: Maloney hopes for friendly budget, closing in on assistant GM

Don Maloney

It’s an important offseason for the Phoenix (soon-to-be Arizona) Coyotes.

After missing the playoffs the past two seasons, GM Don Maloney will have his hands full trying to help the team rebound and get back into the mix in a heavily competitive Pacific Division. As Sarah McLellan of AZCentral.com shares, Maloney is hoping for a couple forms of help this summer including a juicier budget.

“I need (a budget) now, not July 15, because it really does impact what we’re going to do,” Maloney said.

Coyotes owner Anthony LeBlanc said he thought they had a competitive budget last season and the league’s financial success should allow them to spend a little more, but they’re not going to be a salary cap team.

Maloney is also in search of a new Assistant GM following Brad Treliving’s departure to Calgary for their GM position. As Craig Morgan of Fox Sports Arizona shares, Maloney has one person in mind for the position but if they don’t accept he has a list of four or five other names to pursue.

That one person? Morgan believes it’s former Buffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier. Regier hasn’t been heard from since being fired by the Sabres in mid-November. He served as GM of the Sabres for 17 years.

PHT Morning Skate: Berglund’s scoring touch is back

Patrik Berglund

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Patrik Berglund’s Swedish eyes are smiling after scoring six goals in the past eight games, including two against Nashville on Saturday. (The Post-Dispatch)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $1,200 Fantasy Hockey league for Monday’s late NHL games. It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $275. Starts Monday at 7:30pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

With all the injuries the Detroit Red Wings have, they need Jimmy Howard to be their savior. (Detroit Free Press)

That Nail Yakupov is such a bad teammate, you guys. He’s so bad that coach Dallas Eakins loved seeing him come to help out Matt Hendricks when dealing with some Hurricanes in a scuffle. This sarcasm doing anything for you? (Edmonton Journal)

The Tampa Bay Lightning will be erecting a statue for former captain Dave Andreychuk. Winning a Stanley Cup gets you some pretty great perks. (Tampa Tribune)

Give it up to Team Canada women’s team goalie Shannon Szabados who made her ECHL debut. Awesome stuff. (NHL.com)

Big time kudos to the United States Paralympic hockey team that took gold at the Paralympics in Sochi. (USA Hockey)

Finally, check out the video tribute the Buffalo Sabres played for Thomas Vanek who played in his first game in Buffalo since being traded back in late October. Vanek said after the game: “My previous experience when someone else came back, they didn’t do much so I didn’t know what to expect, but I thought it was very nice and very classy of them.” Take that, Darcy Regier.

Vanek: ‘I didn’t ask to be traded’

Thomas Vanek

Sabres fans might be able to breathe a little easier today. Thomas Vanek isn’t looking to be traded.

Vanek spoke with reporters in Buffalo and said he has no idea where the talk of him wanting to be moved came from and that he’s happy to wait and see what the season brings. WGR’s Paul Hamilton shares the story.

“I never asked to be traded so when people do mention it, I’m surprised. Did I think I was going to get traded, no because I never once went in there and said I don’t want to be here. I said, ‘Right now I’m not looking for an extension, but not saying that I wouldn’t want one down the road, but right now I just want to see where it goes’.”

All right, so maybe breathing easier won’t totally happen, but at the very least Vanek isn’t looking to get out of town right away. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and he said he wants to keep his options open. One thing he’s said is he doesn’t want to stick around for a long rebuild.

GM Darcy Regier’s options are to either extend him or deal him before the deadline before possibly losing him for nothing. That’s the same situation goalie Ryan Miller is in as well. If either player is to be moved, plenty of teams will want in on them for the right price.

Related: Vanek preparing for season in Buffalo, but admits situation not ‘best-case scenario’