Here's a video look at the Sabres' goals in Tuesday's 3-1 preseason win in Columbus (with highlights from the Blue Jackets' radio network/arena video feed as sent to Sabres.com).
Marcus Foligno nets the first two, including one on an acrobatic move crossing the front of the net, while Corey Tropp picks the pocket of Blue Jackets goalie Mike McKenna and feeds Mikhail Grigorenko for the insurance tally in the third period.
(Hint: Don't have your cursor over the video box while it's playing or you will get the banner staying on the screen at the top. Move the cursor to the side).
"Grigorenko was deemed to be ineligible for the tournament because of the number of NHL games he appeared on the Sabres’ roster in the 2012-13 season," the team announced in a release this afternoon.
The center, selected 12th overall in the 2012 draft, skated in 25 games for the Sabres during his rookie year. He had a goal and four assists while shuttling between Buffalo and his junior team in Quebec.
General Manager Darcy Regier has already said the 19-year-old will spend all of this season in Buffalo, and the tournament would have given the organization a good chance to view his offseason growth.
The only other prospects traveling to Traverse City who have played for the Sabres are defensemen Mark Pysyk (19 games) and Chad Ruhwedel (seven).
The Ilya Kovalchuk contract, a 15-year, $100-million monstrosity signed in 2010, might be the single biggest reason we lost half a season -- and nearly an entire one -- to a lockout. It was voided in stunning fashion today and not for any further rules violation.
The Devils, remember, lost their first-round pick for next year as a penalty for Kovalchuk's initial 17-year, $102 million deal the league wouldn't authorize. His annual cap hit of nearly $6.7 million is gone with no post-age 35 recapture penalty.
That's all fine and well but think the Devils would have liked to have known this prior to the free agency period opening July 5? They could have gone elsewhere for help. They might have even kept David Clarkson. Just a selfish move by a selfish hockey player.
Sabres center Mikhail Grigorenko had just come off the ice at development camp this afternoon when he heard the news about one of his Russian idols.
"I don't understand. I was thinking is that some kind of joke or something," Grigorenko told me. "I'm really shocked. He's my favorite player in the NHL. He's a really good player and I was hoping he would keep playing in the NHL."
The rankings are for non-NHL players only -- or players who have appeared in fewer than 25 games last season or 50 in their careers.
Author Corey Pronman admits the Sabres would have been slightly lower had Mikhail Grigorenko played one more NHL game and thus lost "prospect" status by playing more than 25 games, but says the Sabres have drafted so well in 2012 and 2013 the ranking would have been high anyway. He called the 2013 draft class "exceptional." Like many hockey observers, Prospectus loved the Jason Pominville trade that brought Johan Larsson, Matt Hackett and now, Nikita Zadorov.
Now it's all about getting these players to develop at the NHL level -- and for the NHL guys to not go belly-up once they hit Buffalo. No small task.
Tampa Bay and the New York Islanders were rated ahead of Buffalo, with Anaheim and Florida right behind. The bottom five were San Jose, Los Angeles, New Jersey, Philadelphia and St. Louis.
The Sabres have tried to make a big splash in free agency since Terry Pegula took over the team. It appears that trend will change.
General Manager Darcy Regier said today that Buffalo's prime targets in free agency, which opens Friday, will be players who can complement the current roster rather than headline it.
"The focus is going to be on supporting this younger group,
this younger core group," Regier said in First Niagara Center. "Certainly, you want good players, but you want players
who are committed to being professionals, being examples, being contributors.
Those are the most important characteristics and the most important things we
can do organizationally to make sure we progress in the direction we need to
Regier said the trade market has begun to form as the NHL heads toward its shopping season, and Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller remain available.
"I’m actively finding out what the marketplace is like, not
limited to those two players," Regier said. "There will be a number of teams we’ll speak to regarding not
just the goaltending position but other positions, as well."
PITTSBURGH -- Mikhail Grigorenko had a laptop by his side today, and he was studying clips of his return to the Sabres' lineup. It was a solid re-debut Monday, with the center putting up one shot in 15:18 of ice time while winning 9 of 15 faceoffs against the Jets. He'll look to improve on the performance tonight against the Penguins in Consol Energy Center.
After Friday's season finale, it appears the Sabres' top prospect will join his fourth team this season. The Rochester Amerks start the AHL playoffs this weekend, and Grigorenko is expected to report.
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."
BOSTON -- The pain caused by the Boston Marathon explosions will linger for awhile. The Sabres and Bruins hope they can ease it for a couple of hours.
The teams will face off in TD Garden tonight in Boston's first sporting event since the act of terror that marred Monday's race. The Bruins are expected to memorialize the three people who died and 176 who were wounded when a pair of bombs exploded near the finish line of the legendary marathon.
"I’m sure it will be full of emotions after obviously what happened on Monday," Bruins forward Chris Kelly said after the morning skate. "Your thoughts and prayers go out to everyone that was affected, and hopefully we can go out and play hard for the city of Boston.
A quick Sabres update from First Niagara Center: Practice has opened as scheduled at 10:30 a.m., the normal time when the team is planning a flight. The plane to Boston is supposed to leave at 3 p.m. and there is no indication of any change in the schedule for tomorrow's game against the Bruins at 7:30 in TD Garden in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings.
In roster news, Mikhail Grigorenko is on the ice at practice today but there is no decision yet from the Sabres whether he will be going to Boston or is simply here working out and getting ready to go to Rochester.
More updates, of course, after practice is complete.
The competition for college free agents can be fierce, especially when they have the talent to become All-American defensemen. NHL clubs need to add special incentives to get deals done, which how the Sabres got Chad Ruhwedel.
The team signed the much-lauded D-man from UMass Lowell to a two-year contract today, and Ruhwedel will make his debut this afternoon against Philadelphia.
The promise of playing time lured Ruhwedel.
"It’s what you have to do to get the player signed now," Buffalo General Manager Darcy Regier said outside First Niagara Center. "You have to make a commitment to put him on your roster, and so you have to have a comfort level with them playing some games here. That’s really part of the package.
Mikhail Grigorenko and his girlfriend arrive at the airport in Quebec on Saturday. (Le Soleil photo)
By Mike Harrington
WASHINGTON -- We'll be heading over to the Verizon Center in a couple of hours for the Sabres' morning skate and to preview the expected return of Patrick Kaleta to the lineup tonight against the Capitals. Saw through Twitter a link to a story on Mikhail Grigorenko's return to Quebec (his lone remaining regular season game is this afternoon), and there's some pretty interesting French translation.
In the story, Grigorenko is gracious to the Sabres for the chance to play in the NHL, to veterans like Jason Pominville and Steve Ott for helping him through the season. He revels in the fact he got to play against the likes of Steven Stamkos and Ilya Kovalchuk.
During his pregame briefing with reporters today prior to the 3 p.m. faceoff against Ottawa, Sabres interim coach Ron Rolston made it pretty clear that the team's place near the bottom of the Eastern Conference was a key reason that T.J. Brennan was traded yesterday to Florida and Mikhail Grigorenko was shipped back to the Quebec Remparts. You want a firesale? The Sabres still seem to be shooting for eighth place.
"With where we were at as a team, it was difficult to give him an opportunity that he probably needed developmentally," Rolston said when asked about Grigorenko. "For our organization right now, the best thing for him would be to go play in the [Quebec League] playoffs get playoff experience, really be a really big part of that team and be in every situation."
Brennan couldn't find any ice time either and was dealt to Florida, where he will be reunited with Kevin Dineen, his former coach in Portland.
Mikhail Grigorenko just wasn't ready for big minutes with the Sabres, so General Manager Darcy Regier decided today the rookie center was better off getting prime ice time in the playoffs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
The Sabres have sent the 18-year-old back to the Quebec Remparts, but Regier feels Grigorenko learned a lot about what he needs to do to be an NHL player, which should benefit his future.
"I think this has been a very good thing," Regier said about Grigorenko's NHL debut season.
With the Sabres near the bottom of the NHL and the trade deadline approaching April 3, Regier said the team needs to find a way to acquire more good players. But ...
"I'm not in a blow-it-up mind-set," Regier said.
To hear all his thoughts, click the audio file below.
Mikhail Grigorenko's time in the NHL is up for now.
The Sabres have sent the rookie back to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The move came less than an hour after a member of the Quebec Remparts told The News there had been no discussions between the Sabres and Remparts about Grigorenko returning.
"It is big news and big surprise for us," said a Remparts spokesman.
After a solid tryout period, Grigorenko became a spare part for the Sabres. He averaged 9:44 of ice time during his 22 games and recorded one goal and five points with a minus-2 rating.
The Remparts have just two regular-season games remaining before starting the playoffs. They are sixth in the 18-team league.
Early in the season, the Sabres debated whether to keep Grigorenko and use the first year of his entry-level contract or send him back to Quebec. They decided to keep the 18-year-old, who now has two years left on his deal.
After sitting out three games as a healthy scratch, Mikhail Grigorenko is back in the Sabres' lineup tonight. As he should be.
If the Sabres are going to miss the playoffs this year, the No. 1 draft pick should play. I want to see 12-14 minutes a game and some power play time. Not this fourth-line garbage. Even if the team starts to improve, Grigorenko should be seeing time over some veterans (see Hecht, Jochen).
Seems like interim coach Ron Rolston agrees.
"When we put him in there, we want him to be playing with some players that he can play with and make plays and build confidence," Rolston said today.
Guys were more talkative on the ice in First Niagara Center. They cheered their teammates during a session-ending shootout drill. They loudly complimented their goalies for big saves during the breakaways.
Yes, winning feels good. Now they just have to do it again.
Tyler Seguin celebrates his goal last week in Montreal. (Getty Images)
By Mike Harrington
Lindy Ruff has made several references this year to the Sabres' plan of using Mikhail Grigorenko as being similar to what the Bruins did during the 2010-11 season with winger Tyler Seguin.
Two years ago, a season he began at age 18, Seguin was a healthy scratch seven times during the regular season and scored 11 goals. But he really produced in the playoffs with a couple key goals in the Eastern Conference finals against Tampa -- and those came after he was scratched for every game in the first two rounds against Montreal and Philadelphia.
Last year, Seguin burst on the scene with 29 goals, 67 points and a plus-34 rating. So far this year, he hasn't been as good (two goals, six points, plus-8 in 11 games) but he still plays 17:46 a night.
I asked Boston coach Claude Julien today about the process of massaging young players through the early travails of their career and he said the Bruins had a distinct plan in mind.
OTTAWA -- The Sabres have hit the ice at Scotiabank Place for their pregame skate. As Lindy Ruff said this morning, Mikhail Grigorenko is back in his normal spot on the third line. One of the fourth liners will be a scratch. The lines look like this:
OTTAWA -- In his weekly appearance on WGR Radio this morning, coach Lindy Ruff announced that defenseman Tyler Myers and center Mikhail Grigorenko will return to the lineup tonight against the Ottawa Senators. Myers has been a healthy scratch the last two games while Grigorenko sat out Sunday against Boston.
There was no indication who will be coming out of the lineup. The Sabres are scheduled to skate at Scotiabank Place at 11:30.
John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.
Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.