By John Vogl
Mihkail Grigorenko has been waiting for another shot at the NHL, and he's going to get it Monday.
The Sabres' prospect, who hasn't played for Buffalo since March 12, will be in the lineup when the Sabres host Winnipeg. Patrick Kaleta is out after getting hurt blocking a shot Friday, and the injury will give Grigorenko three games to show what he's learned during a whirlwind season.
"I was thinking about this," Grigorenko said today after practice in First Niagara Center. "I’m ready to play."
Grigorenko has dressed 22 times for the Sabres and recorded a goal and four assists. The organization sent him back to Quebec in mid-March to compete in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs. Buffalo recalled him Tuesday and he's been practicing with the team.
"When I first came here when the season started, I was a little nervous and stuff," he said. "I didn’t have a lot of confidence. After I went to juniors and came back here again, I felt more comfortable. I felt like it’s my team and I belong here."
The 18-year-old centered Jochen Hecht and Nathan Gerbe today.
"For a guy like Mikhail who will be in there, again with another opportunity to do what he needs to do to be a member of this team and be somebody who can help us be successful, it’ll be an opportunity for him," interim coach Ron Rolston said. "We’re going to see these next three games with Mikhail. He’s got skill. You watch him out there, he’s got big skill. It’s going to be all, just like the rest of them that we ask them every game and every practice, just the compete.
"So we’re going to see the next three games where that’s at and then continue the evaluation."