Grigorenko seeks more permanent role with Sabres

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 16, 2013 at 5:18 pm •  Published: January 16, 2013

What's not in question is the good first impression Grigorenko has already made on Ruff and his teammates this week.

He didn't look out of place during a scrimmage Monday, when his line generated numerous chances. Grigorenko snapped a shot off the post from the right circle, and he also showed off a deceptive touch by making several pinpoint passes.

"He's off to the right start in having the building blocks of being a big, big deal in this league," Ott said. "He brings an element of the game that for me, personally, I haven't seen from a kid in my tenure that's come in like this."

Leino was impressed, too.

"He's got a great career ahead of him," Leino said. "Hopefully, it will be this year. It's hard to say this early, but he's definitely got all the tools."

Grigorenko's objective to play in the NHL began two years ago, when he brought along his mother to Quebec.

Last season, he led the league's rookies with 45 goals and 85 points in 59 games despite dealing with an illness at the end of the season. This season, Grigorenko still ranks 19th in the league with 50 points (29 goals and 21 assists) in 32 games despite missing 11 to compete in the World Junior Hockey championships and attend Sabres camp.

That already puts Grigorenko ahead of numerous NHL players, who haven't had the benefit of playing in competitive games during the lockout.

"I feel good. It's a little hard here, practice and stuff," Grigorenko said. "But I look at the guys and see it's not easy for them, too. So I'm kind of happy about that."

He's trying to keep an even keel about his future. Returning to Quebec would be a disappointment, but something he can deal with.

"I would be disappointed and stuff, but this life won't stop and I'll try to finish my season strong," Grigorenko said.

His focus remains on Buffalo

"Every day, I'm coming to the rink and trying to do my best because you kind of know that any day could be my last," Grigorenko said. "I'm still here. I guess that's good."