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The Buffalo Sabres entered the 2012 NHL Entry Draft in rare form, with two first round picks, one at number 12 overall, and the second at number 14 overall, which they traded up for. With those two picks they picked up big centermen, Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons, respectively.
The two were drafted for obvious reasons, to fix the Sabres’ problems down the middle, and with the two signing entry-level contracts, just days apart, that plan may come to fruition sooner rather than later.
Girgenons, the latter of the two first-round picks, was the first to sign his three-year Entry-Level Contract with the Sabres. Just five days after Girgensons signed the dotted line, Grigorenko followed suit. Meaning come time for the Sabres’ training camp, both first-round picks will have the opportunity to make the Sabres’ roster for the 2012-2013 season.
Both first rounders have expressed their desire to play for the big club next season. Girgensons passed up a college career at the University of Vermont when signing his contract. Girgensons’ time at the Sabres’ development camp seemed to be the swaying factor in his decision to go pro.
“I always felt that the NCAA was the best way for me to develop on and off the ice. After attending the Buffalo Sabres camp, and learning their plans for me, I feel I am ready to begin my professional career.”
Girgensons, who played for the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL last season, will be eligible to play for either the Sabres, or their AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans, come October
Reports were that Grigorenko and his agent had been talking contract with the Sabres since he was drafted nearly a month ago. However, Grigorenko had apparently received an offer to go play in the KHL, a possibility that played a major factor in his sliding down the draft board and the Sabres being able to grab him at number 12.
But after being drafted, Grigorenko expressed his desire to stay in Buffalo and play in the NHL. Before the draft, Grigorneko commented on the situation.
“I know a lot of people think with the Russian factor I may want to go play in the KHL, so I want to go meet the teams, show them who I am and that I want to play in the NHL,” Grigorenko said. “In the KHL it’s hard to prepare yourself for the NHL. The NHL was my dream and that’s why I came here, because I knew I would be more ready for the NHL.”
The signing of his contract should cement that desire for any of his doubters. However, since Grigorenko played for the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL last season, he has not met the requirements that would make him eligible to play in the AHL next season, so it is Sabres or bust for Grigorenko next season.
Needless to say, this is week has been a huge step in the right direction for the Sabres. They have made the future of the organization much brighter with the signing of their two first-rounders. With a good training camp, we could see Grigorenko and Girgensons in Sabres’ sweaters as early as October.