Grigorenko gets ‘huge opportunity’ with Buffalo’s AHL team

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Mikhail Grigorenko is finally getting a chance to play at the AHL level.

Now all he’s got to do is take advantage of it.

“This is a huge opportunity for him,” Rochester Americans coach Chadd Cassidy said, per the Democrat and Chronicle. “As a guy who has kind of ping-ponged around, he’s looking for an opportunity with new management to solidify his place in this organization.

“Management has said time and time again they want guys producing here and earning their way up.”

The Sabres have tried to get Grigorenko into the AHL before — a potential move to Rochester in November was blocked by the NHL — and that’s left the young Russian bouncing back and forth between the NHL level (which the Sabres feel he’s not ready for) and the QMJHL (which he has dominated, scoring 89 points in his last 56 games.)

Because of the AHL-CHL agreement — CHL prospects must remain in major junior until they are 20 or have played four full seasons before playing in the American League — Grigorenko wasn’t able to play for Rochester full-time. So the Sabres had to find him temporary places to play (to wit: he represented Russia at the 2014 World Juniors, where he led the team in scoring and finished second in the tournament with five goals) until his season in the Q was complete and he could join the Amerks.

After his Remparts were eliminated from playoff contention on Friday, he was free to go to the American League.

Now, it’s basically like he’s starting all over again.

Still only 19 years old, Grigorenko has a chance to impress an entirely new management team from the one that drafted him 12th overall at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. The two coaches he previously played for in Buffalo, Lindy Ruff and Ron Rolston, are long gone. The GM that drafted him, Darcy Regier, has been replaced.

So it’s time to show a whole new set of people what he can do.

“I have two or three weeks now and I really have a chance to help the guys,” he said after practice on Monday. “It’s a good opportunity for me.”