Should he stay or should he go?
After today's game in D.C., the Sabres will have to make their decision on whether or not Mikhail Grigorenko stays on the roster or goes back to his junior team.
The organization knew they had five games coming into this shortened season to make that call. Grigorenko knew he had what amounted to a 5-game tryout with the big club.
There should only be three major questions asked to come to this decision and conclusion:
1. Has he shown he will hurt us while on the ice?
2. Can he help us win this year?
3. Will he develop better being in Buffalo or back in juniors for the next 3-4 months?
There's one issue that shouldn't be a factor in this discussion at all: his contract clock.
Too much is being made about the fact that If the Sabres keep him in Buffalo, the clock starts ticking on his entry-level contract, thus making him a restricted free agent sooner rather than later, and then having to make another decision about his dollar-value sooner, too.
I say, "who cares?"
This isn't a team that has the luxury of waiting around anymore for players who will help them win LATER. They are not in a rebuilding mode. They're in a win-now mode. Even if they don't use those exact words, the coach says it. The GM says it. And most importantly, the owner says it. The fans know it and expect it.
If this was a team just paying out this 48-game season waiting to get rid of a few veteran contracts and trying to get to the end as quickly as possible to start over next camp, knowing they were at least another two years away from competing the way they intend, Grigorenko's clock on his contract would be a valid reason not to hold him here.
But it's not.
If they feel he can help them win now and are confident he's not going to hurt them (which he clearly hasn't so far), he needs to stay. Worry about the contract later. They have far more pressing contracts to have to make decisions on before Grigorenko's next deal would come up anyway. Namely, Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, Ryan Miller, and Steve Ott will all be entering the last year of their contracts next year. Robyn Regehr and Jordan Leopold are in the final year of their deals now. There's a new CBA in place that helps teams move players and money more than the past CBA. When the time comes, they'll have the money and ability to keep Grigorenko long-term.
Making decisions based on the money you may have to pay a few years down the road - to a very young talented player who may be able to help you win now - is how teams with tight budgets and strict bottom lines operate.
It's how the old Sabres operated.
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