The Buffalo Sabres will reportedly keep Mikhail Grigorenko — the 12th overall pick at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft — in junior for the remainder of this season, according to Le Journal de Quebec.
Le Journal learned of the decision from Ray Cloutier, play-by-play man for the Quebec Remparts, Grigorenko’s QMJHL club.
Cloutier tweeted that a “reliable source” claimed the plan was to keep the talented Russian in junior for the full season, rather than have him play with the Sabres if (when?) the NHL season gets underway.
If the report checks out, it’ll be a surprising decision to say the least.
Grigorenko — who once challenged Nail Yakupov as the top prospect for the ’12 draft — is a dynamic talent with NHL-ready size (6-foot-3, 200 pounds).
He also made it clear at Buffalo’s July prospects camp his goal for this season is to play for the Sabres.
“Make the NHL,” he said of his plans for 2012-13. “I’m getting stronger and on the ice I feel more comfortable.”
Grigorenko’s done all he can to make good on that goal. He currently leads Quebec in scoring with 29G-21A-50PTS — fifth overall in the league — and was recently named to Team Russia for the upcoming World Junior championships.
What’s more, Buffalo doesn’t have much depth at center.
The Sabres have lost the services of centers Tim Connolly, Paul Gaustad and Derek Roy over the last year and a half, leaving them with Cody Hodgson and Tyler Ennis projected as their top two centers.
Grigorenko has drawn comparisons to famous Russian center Alexander Yakushev — a star from the 1972 Summit Series — so it stands to reason he could be in line for minutes with Buffalo…you know, assuming he gets the chance.