5 games into an NHL “audition,” Sabres fans wait with bated breath for word on whether 18 year old Mikhail Grigorenko will remain with the club or head back to the Quebec Ramparts of the QMJHL.
Breathe. Read between the lines and you’ll see that he’s staying.
This became apparent when head coach Lindy Ruff chose, in game 4 of Grigorenko’s stint, to limit his ice time to under seven minutes, much of which was spent on a line with John Scott.
Fans: “It doesn’t make any sense.”
Well, let’s think through this. Working with the assumption that Ruff is neither stupid nor crazy (and conceding this is an assumption some are unwilling to make), here’s the only way it makes perfect sense:
The decision to keep Grigorenko around had already been made.
You’re not watching this kid try out for the Sabres. You’re watching an 18 year old who bypassed the minors learn how to play in the NHL. If it goes well, you’ve just seen the first 5 games of a 20 year career. And with no AHL experience, no significant training camp, and no preseason, you’re essentially watching his earliest practices… live on television.
There will be ups and downs. There will be first line nights and fourth line nights. There will be game winning goals and there will be healthy scratches. Through it all, we’ll start to get a sense of whether the kid can play.
We’re not waiting for a decision. We’re waiting for an announcement.