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Grigorenko's struggles in Buffalo have been well documented.
The 2012 first-round draft pick was thrust into the lineup immediately last season as an 18-year-old, had the first year of his entry-level contract burnt before he was later sent back to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and then came back to suffer much of the same this season.
He's been a healthy scratch multiple times this year in Buffalo, and the new regime of interim coach Ted Nolan and president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine even tried to send him to the AHL before that was blocked by NHL brass.
With just three goals and five assists in his NHL career, halfway through his entry-level deal with the Sabres, something needs to change—and quickly.
After the Sabres gave the Russian National Team permission to take him off their hands for a month, Grigorenko is now one of two current NHL players on the Russian roster for the WJC, along with Dallas' Valeri Nichushkin.
Grigorenko is excited for the chance to show his talents once again, as he expressed recently in The Buffalo News.
“I think it’s going to be great for me because I’m not getting enough ice time so I’m a little frustrated,” he said. “But going there, I’ll play a lot. It’s a really good level there. All the best junior players. I’m going to play against players my age, play a lot and play big minutes. It’s going to be a really good experience.”
In the same article, Nolan—who seems to have been puzzled by what else to do with the troubled youngster—agreed with the sentiment that playing in the tournament is a golden opportunity for Grigorenko.
“If history teaches us anything it’s that a player’s got to play,” Nolan said. “I don’t know too many people who develop without playing. He has to play and this will give him a good opportunity to do so.”
Grigorenko will finally have the chance to play and showcase his skills. That much is a given. Sabres fans watching Russia games in the tournament can enjoy watching that while hoping it translates to an improvement in his play in North America when the WJC is over.