23-Year-Old Center – Free Agent
Mikhail Grigorenko Contract Information:
Grigorenko signed a three-year contract with CSKA of the KHL in July of 2017.
Grigorenko signed a three-year contract with CSKA of the KHL on Friday, John Vogl of The Buffalo News reports.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Grigorenko could easily become a fantasy gem if the right situation came about. Buried on a depth chart full of talent, the 22-year-old chose the 2015-16 campaign to put up his best year as a pro, even in a limited role. The 2012 first-round pick by Buffalo scored six times, adding 21 helpers and 84 shots on goal in 13:16 of ice time in his first campaign with Colorado. During Gabriel Landeskog’s two-game suspension this past year, the Russian shined with a tally and two assists in his top-line debut, showcasing the skills that many wish could be on display more often. While there’s no expected jump in playing time, Grigorenko could fall into an extended opportunity and won’t hesitate to take advantage of it. Thirty points isn’t out of the question, but we’d like to see more of the center before recommending him outside of deeper leagues.
Grigorenko was one of the pieces the Avs acquired as a part of the offseason blockbuster trade that sent two-way center Ryan O’ Reilly to the Sabres. The 21-year-old joins a Colorado team that is already loaded with young offensive building blocks in Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene, and Nathan MacKinnon, so the opportunity to contribute in a top-six role with the parent club won't exist at the outset. That said, Grigorenko is a gifted, though inconsistent player, and even though he only has six goals and 14 points in 68 career NHL games, he could thrive in a system with far greater forward talent than he skated alongside in Buffalo. If the 6-foot-3 Russian can gel better with his new organization, it may not take long for him to finally make good on his vast potential. Grigorenko's lack of NHL production to date makes it best for fantasy players to take a wait-and-see approach before investing, but those in very deep leagues could do worse than using an end-of-draft dart on the center. The big man has all the tools to become a fantasy stud, and now that he's been placed on an up-and-coming squad with a more favorable supporting cast, he may finally emerge as a post-hype sleeper.
The talented Russian playmaker has the most high-end offensive skill set of any Sabres prospect, but too often shirks defensive responsibilities and fails to do what is asked of him. The Sabres have jerked Grigorenko around over the past two seasons, playing him on three different teams each year, causing him to be unable to find his groove. Entering the final year of his entry-level contract, Grigorenko has plenty to prove and will most likely start at the AHL level. The former Quebec Remparts star tallied four assists in nine games in the regular season with Rochester last year.
Considering his dominance at the junior level (139 points in 92 games over two seasons), Grigorenko had a tough adjustment to the NHL last season. He posted one goal and five points in 25 games, but wasn’t placed in a scoring line role by former head coach Lindy Ruff. With Grigorenko restricted from playing in the AHL and having nothing left to prove in the QMJHL, the Sabres will likely keep the 19-year old Russian in the NHL for the entire season. His potential is incredibly high and the opportunity will be there to produce, so those in keeper leagues should be ready to pounce if he’s still available.
Grigorenko, the 12th overall selection in June's NHL entry draft, is considered NHL-ready and will fight for a scoring role with the Sabres this fall. A big pivot is exactly what the Sabres need considering the sizes of Tyler Ennis and Cody Hodgson; Grigorenko's 85 points in 59 games with Quebec of the QMJHL cemented his status as one of hockey's top offensive prospects. However, he is only 18 years of age, so temper your enthusiasm in one-year leagues and keep close tabs on him in keeper formats.