To say the Buffalo Sabres' Mikhail Grigorenko has struggled is an understatement, but team officials insist the youngster isn't going anywhere.
Grigorenko has been a healthy scratch twice this season and is scoreless in seven games with a minus-1 rating and only six shots on goal. He's continued to earn more time on the bench with every game, slipping to a season-low 6:43 of ice time over eight shifts on the fourth line in Thursday's loss to Vancouver.
He struggled in his rookie season last year, as well, scoring only one goal and four assists in 25 games before being sent back to juniors. But coach Ron Rolston said that won't be the case this year for the 19-year-old former first-round draft pick:
"He won't be sent down … this is where he falls in the lineup right now. (Johan) Larsson is playing well right now and earning that time."
Larsson was a healthy scratch the first two games before playing his way into the lineup and eventually supplanting Grigorenko on the third line. The 22-year-old is also scoreless. He played 13:22 Thursday.
NHL rules prevent Grigorenko from being demoted to the AHL due to his age and NHL experience, so the only place for him to get more time on the ice would be back in juniors. Time on his entry-level contract would continue to run, however, because he exceeded the maximum number of NHL games last season to avoid starting the clock on his deal.
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