Found July 18, 2012 on Queen City Sports:

Since day one Mikhail Grigorenko’s main goal was to make the NHL this year. On Wednesday, he became one step closer to achieving his goal.

It took just under a month to get it done, but Mikhail Grigorenko is officially a Buffalo Sabre.   And now that the contract is signed, Grigorenko is happy to be where he’s at.

“I’m so happy to finally sign a contract. Now i really can feel that i’m 100% part of the organization,” said Grigorenko.

Grigorenko was Buffalo’s first of two first round draft choices in this past June’s NHL Draft, however he was the second one to sign after Zemgus Girgensons agreed to a contract last Friday.

“I was so excited yesterday because, first, I was excited when they draft me, but then it was the next step to sign a contract, now I’m signed,” he said. “Next step is to make the team and play NHL.”

The highest drafted forward by Buffalo since the team took Thomas Vanek fifth overall in 2005, Grigorenko was viewed as one of the most prolific scorers and playmakers in the 2012 draft class, often drawing comparisons to Penguins center Evgeni Malkin.

General Manager Darcy Regier said the Grigorenko will have every chance to play with Buffalo this year.

“We have a number of young players he will be competing with, but he will have every opportunity,” said Regier. “In Mikhail’s case it will be driven by him. It will be driven by training camp and exhibition games in a sense of where he fits and how he fits.”

Since the day he was drafted Grigorenko has stated that he wants to play in the NHL. When asked if he felt ready for the NHL, Grigorenko wasn’t 100% sure.

“I dont know if I feel ready because I never played against NHL players,” he said. “I think I’m in good shape now. I’m getting better and better. I hope when i’m in the camp I will be ready.”

Grigorenko did say that to make the team he feels that he needs to have the same confidence that he had with Quebec at the Major Junior level.

Before the contract was signed, there were numerous reports that the KHL in Russia was making a hard push to sign the big Russian. Grigorenko quickly thwarted those rumors by saying the KHL never had a chance to get him.

“It wasn’t any competition,” said Grigorenko. “I want to be an NHL player. I want to be drafted, sign a contract, and do everything to make the team. So now I don’t even think about KHL.”

Regier said that Grigorenko will head back to Russia to play with the Russian national junior team during the month of August for four games. He feels that it will benefit Grigorenko greatly being able to play through August.


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