Niagara Gazette

Pro Sports

July 18, 2012

Grigorenko now officially another prospect in Sabres' stable

Russian signs entry-level deal

(Continued)

BUFFALO —

“I don’t know if I feel ready because I’ve never played against NHL players,” Grigorenko acknowledged. “I mean, in development camp there was some guys from (the) NHL. I think I’m in real good shape now and getting better and better. I hope in camp I’ll be able to compete with the guys.”

Why does Regier think Grigorenko could possibly play in the NHL immediately?

“First is his size, his skating ability, his skill level,” he said. “I think with younger players … when you have the things that he has, the biggest things revolve around the maturity level, that individual on the ice, that ability to think the game. You’re now playing against men. You have to compete for the puck at a very high level and a consistent level.

“Often, the difference between the younger players and the older players is the older players have figured out how to play more hockey within a shift.”

Naturally, signing an NHL contract – Grigorenko got the maximum rookie deal – excited Grigorenko, who probably could’ve made millions more playing at home in the KHL.

“Now I feel like I’m 100 percent part of the organization,” he said.

The NHL has always been first on Grigorenko’s radar. He moved to Quebec City last year with his mother and took English lessons for three hours a day while compiling 40 goals and 85 points in 59 games with the QMJHL’s Remparts.

“It wasn’t any competition,” Grigorenko said about the NHL and KHL. “Before the draft (the KHL) just wanted me to know they’re interested in me, and they asked me what I feel, like what I want to do. … I said, ‘I’m sorry, I want to be an NHL player.’ … For now, I can’t even think about the KHL.”

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