The Sabres have confirmed that No. 1 draft choice Mikhail Grigorenko (right) will attend training camp, whenever it starts. This was first reported late Sunday night in a French language report out of Quebec I cited earlier today.
Grigorenko, 18, was the star of the Russian team at the World Junior Championships and has 29 goals and 50 points in 30 games for the Quebec Ramparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Grigorenko can play up to nine NHL games without kicking in the first year of his entry-level contract. Once he gets to game 10, he cannot return to juniors. The junior tryout is similar to the one Tyler Myers got at the beginning of the 2009-10 season. Myers, of course, stayed in the NHL and went on to win the Calder Trophy.
Grigorenko is in a much different position, however, because of the shortened training camp and lack of exhibition games. How he performs in camp will clearly determine the Sabres' course of action but it would obviously better to see him in some games that don't count first. The Sabres won't have that luxury.
The Sabres need centers behind Tyler Ennis and Cody Hodgson and Grigorenko is certainly intriguing. He's also in elite game condition from his season and the top international tournament, where he outplayed teammate and No. 1 overall draft pick Nail Yakupov. It's reasonable to think the Sabres take a chance on him in early games to see how he does, especially as veterans get into shape.
They can always send him back to junior at any point before the nine games are up. No harm, no foul.
(Grigorenko photo/Getty Images)