Mikhail Grigorenko feels he fits in with the Sabres. Coach Lindy Ruff says it's early, but he can see the talent level possessed by the Russian rookie.
The next week or two will show whether 18-year-old will fit in with Buffalo this season or next.
Grigorenko, the 18-year-old center drafted in the first round, participated in his first practice with professionals today as the Sabres opened training camp with two sessions in First Niagara Center.
"I feel great," Grigorenko said. "I was very excited and a little bit nervous before the practice, but I finally met all the guys, and all the guys tried to help me on the ice. I felt really comfortable."
Because he remains eligible to play for Quebec in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the Russian has a limited window to show he belongs in the NHL. He can play up to five games as a tryout before the Sabres would need to send him back to Quebec or burn a year of his three-year, entry-level contract.
"You notice his playmaking, his passing ability," said Ruff, who put Grigorenko between left wing Steve Ott and right wing Ville Leino. "Skating-wise, I thought he moved around the ice pretty good. He looks big out there."
Grigorenko's next test will come Monday when the Sabres hold a scrimmage at 5:30 p.m. It is open to the public.
To hear more from Grigorenko and Ruff, click the audio files below.