About a week ago, rumors circulated that the Buffalo Sabres were trying to find out if Mikhail Grigorenko would opt for the KHL, especially if the Sabres only offer a two-way contract.
According to the Olean Times Herald, GM Tim Murray said that he believes Grigorenko, 21, needs extra seasoning in the AHL (“whether that’s 10 games, half a year, whatever it is”). More than anything else, he’s bewildered that Grigorenko insists on a one-way deal, though.
“They tell me he’s ready to play,” Murray said during a press conference on Thursday. “I don’t know why they’d be afraid of a two-way contract. I’m baffled, actually.”
Is it really that confusing, though?
If Grigorenko takes a two-way deal, he could be caught in the same AHL/NHL limbo he was before. His development has been stunted at times, and while the prospect could always perform better – his work with the Sabres has been a little lacking – it’s also true that things have been bumpy for Buffalo.
Maybe bouncing between the AHL and NHL is actually appropriate for where he is, but why would Grigorenko just volunteer for that?
Beyond that, a KHL deal isn’t just promising in its potential to provide a better salary and maybe a superior standing with a team; it’s also rare leverage for a player coming off of an entry-level contract. RFAs don’t enjoy much bargaining power, especially ones in Grigorenko’s standing.
It’s an interesting situation to watch, especially since it seems a touch confrontational at this stage. One thing we know beyond the two sides’ preferences regarding the type of contract is that Murray told the Olean Times Herald that he’s at least leaning toward handing Grigorenko a qualifying offer.
After that? Who knows.