Buffalo, NY -- On Wednesday afternoon, the Buffalo Sabres gathered the media at First Niagara Center to announce that the team had come to terms with first round pick Mikhail Grigorenko on an entry-level contract.
"Very proud and pleased to announce the latest addition to the Buffalo Sabres organization, Mikhail Grigorenko," said General Manager Darcy Regier to open up the press conference. "We're thrilled to have him under contract for the next three years, and we're thrilled and excited to have his skill level and his playing ability as a part of our organization."
The 12th overall pick in this year's draft joins Zemgus Girgensons as fellow first round draft picks to sign with the Sabres this offseason. Many believe it was a steal for the blue-and-gold to draft him where they did, with Grigorenko being on the short-list for most NHL ready draftable players in 2012. The forward is ready to get started.
"I'm so happy to finally sign a contract," Grigorenko said Wednesday. "At first I was so excited when they drafted me but after that the next step was to sign a contract, and now I signed so next step is to make the team and play [in the] NHL."
Grigorenko spent last year with the Quebec Ramparts of the QMJHL, recording 40 goals and 85 points in 59 games. With the Sabres lack of production in the offensive end at times last season, those kind of statistics could open up a spot for someone like the Russian center to hook on with the team quickly.
Regier said Grigorenko will certainly have his chance.
"He will," the GM confirmed. "We have a number of young players that he'll be competing with but he'll have every opportunity."
Perhaps the reason the 18-year old forward slid as far as he did on draft day was due to a perceived threat that he could head over to the KHL, a league that has claimed many talented Russian-born players from the grasps of NHL teams previously.
For Grigorenko however, he's had a one-track mind right from the start.
"There wasn't any communication," he said of his talks with the KHL. "Before the draft they just wanted me to know that they're interested in me and asked me what I feel and what I'm going to do. And I said, 'I want to be an NHL player. I want to be drafted and sign a contract and I'll do anything to make the team.' For now, I don't even think about the KHL."
Briefly touching on other roster related matters, Regier said the team has had a conversation with representation for both restricted free agent forwards Tyler Ennis and Patrick Kaleta, and that both will continue throughout the week and moving forward.
He also added that a trade they may look at going forward is flipping a defenseman -- due to their depth -- for a forward, but that the market is very quiet at the present moment.