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|19 июля 2012 года. |
Grigorenko closer to NHL dream: Sabres sign center taken in first round of last month's draft // Buffalo News
Mikhail Grigorenko doesn't usually show much excitement or emotion, but the half-smile he flashed Wednesday at the First Niagara Center while living out every hockey player's dream ? announcing he had signed NHL contract ? showed just how much it meant to the 18-year-old.
"I'm so happy to finally sign a contract," said Grigorenko, whom the Sabres selected 12th overall in this year's draft. "Now I really can feel that I'm 100 percent a part of the organization. I was so excited [Tuesday]. I was real excited when they drafted me, but after the draft, it was like the next step to sign a contract, and now I signed. Next step is to make the team and play in the NHL."
Playing in the NHL is something Grigorenko has always wanted, even more so than playing in the Kontinental Hockey League, the top professional league in his native Russia that often lures talent away from the NHL with huge contracts.
"It wasn't any competition," Grigorenko said. "Before the draft, they just wanted me to know they were interested in me. They asked me what I feel, what I wanted to do with my career, but I said, ?I'm sorry, I want to be an NHL player. I want to be drafted, sign a contract, and will do everything to make the team.' For now I don't even think about the KHL."
Grigorenko was rated as the third-best player in this year's draft by NHL Central Scouting and is considered by many to be NHL-ready. He tore up the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last year as a 17-year-old rookie, finishing eighth in scoring with 85 points in 59 games.
He was impressive centering fellow first-round picks Joel Armia (16th overall, 2011) and Zemgus Girgensons (14th overall, 2012) on a line at development camp last week.
Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier said he expects Grigorenko to compete for a roster spot in training camp.
"We have a number of young players that he will be competing with, but he will have every opportunity [to make the team]," Regier said.
"With respect to any player we put under NHL contract, it is our belief that they will have the ability and capability to play in the NHL at some point. In Mikhail's case, it will be driven by him. And it will be driven by training camp and exhibition games and where he fits and how he fits."
Center is considered the position the Sabres are the thinnest with 22-year-olds Cody Hodgson and Tyler Ennis atop the depth chart followed by Matt Ellis, Cody McCormick and Luke Adam, though Adam is considering a position change to wing to help his chances at making the team.
"With younger players," Regier said, "the biggest challenge revolves around the maturity level of that individual on the ice ? your ability to think the game. You're playing against men."
You have to compete for the puck at a very high level, and a consistent level, and often the difference between the younger players and the older players is that they have figured out how to play more hockey within a shift. That means you're not standing, you're not watching, you're not trying to figure out what you're supposed to be doing. You understand it and you're in flow and in movement with your teammates."
Grigorenko will also have the advantage of playing competitively throughout the summer, attending a Russian World Junior development camp in August.
He said in order to make the squad, he'll have to avoid being star struck.
"Just believe that you can compete with these guys," he said. "Just train a lot and work hard. When I'm going on the ice, try to play with the same confidence I had in juniors."
Terms of the deal were not immediately available.
Girgensons, selected two picks after Grigorenko, signed a three-year deal last week worth a reported $1.625 million per year.
Contract negotiations with Tyler Ennis and Pat Kaleta are next for Regier.
He said the team had one conversation with Ennis and the sides will continue to negotiate through the week.
While the trade market around the league has been slow, Regier said there's still a possibility he could trade a defenseman for a forward, given the amount of players the Sabres have on the blue line.
"There are some conversations, but it's fairly quiet right now," he said.?