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Grigorenko blames self for not sticking with Sabres

Wednesday, 07.16.2014 / 9:41 PM NHL.com

Mikhail Grigorenko started each of the past two seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, then found himself back in juniors and eventually in the American Hockey League.

He says he has only himself to blame.

"From past experiences, I've kind of realized that it was probably no one's fault but mine that I didn't stay in the NHL," Grigorenko told the Sabres website at development camp. "If I want to play in the best league in the world, it's just on me. No one is going to make me play just because I was drafted in the first round. I just need to go out there and just be the best."

Grigorenko was the 12th pick in the 2012 NHL Draft and made his NHL debut in that season opener, Jan. 20 against the Philadelphia Flyers. The center scored his first NHL goal Jan. 29 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

He played 25 NHL games, then 18 in 2013-14. Each season ended with a brief stint for the Rochester Americans in the AHL.

"I think he's got to keep doing what he's doing. I thought he's been good all week (at camp)," Americans coach Chadd Cassidy said. "Obviously we all know Mikhail and his strengths and weaknesses. I think he's addressed them."

Grigorenko, who has bulked up to 219 pounds, had 30 goals and 24 assists (54 points) in 33 games for Quebec in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2012-13, then 15 goals and 24 assists (39 points) in 23 games last season.

He had four assists in nine games with Rochester, then was scoreless in five Calder Cup playoff games.

"I'm a player that has to produce and I didn't do it, so my ice time was a little less and I had less opportunity," the 20-year-old said. "I just didn't get points anymore, which I understand why the coaches didn't play me more."

Grigorenko expects to get much more time, in the NHL, this season.

"I really hope to start the season in Buffalo," he said. "I think it's just going to be up to me."

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