Last Friday, on the heels of the Sabres development camp, Regier signed 2012 first-round pick (#14-overall) Zemgus Girgensons to an entry-level deal. Yesterday the GM added some toughness to the forward ranks in Rochsester by signing Nick Tarnasky to a two-way deal and re-signing RFA defenseman TJ Brennan for another year.
This morning they signed their first pick of the 2012 draft (#12-overall,) Mikhail Grigorenko, to his three year entry-level deal.
The Sabres tweeted this picture of Grigorenko putting pen to paper:
Getting an entry-level contract out of the way for the talented center was a good move for the team. One of the big question marks with Grigorenko, as with many "Russians," is how much weight (via money) the KHL has when it comes to their future.
The Russian league throws large chunks of tax-free money at top-notch hockey talent. For example, the Nashville Predators lost 2004 1st round pick (#15-overall,) Alexander Radulov for three season while he played in the KHL. He came back for this season's stretch run and into the playoffs, but was suspended for two games in the second round for conduct detrimental to the team. He's headed back to the KHL having signed a four-year contract.
Signing Grigorenko puts money in the kid's pocket right now and sends him a message that the team isn't fooling around. They know he has the talent and they have potential openings down the middle. It's now up to him whether or not he makes the team or heads back to junior for another year.
Where Grigorenko stands on the depth-chart, like his 2012 draft counterpart Girgensons, depends upon how training camp goes, but the depth chart down the middle seems to be getting stronger, albeit much, much younger.
Cody Hodgson, 22, is in the mix along with the two recently signed 18 year olds--Grigorenko and Girgensons.
The other young center, Tyler Ennis, 22, is an RFA with a qualifying offer to keep poachers away while they work on a supposed longer, more lucrative contract.
With the trade of veteran center Derek Roy, the team has those four youngsters down the middle as well as veteran 4th-liner Cody McCormick.
Regier has said recently that they're still looking at the center position as a place of need and it was assumed that they're still in the hunt for a bonafide #1 center. But, it could also be safe to assume, that the Sabres will be headed into the season with Hodgson and Ennis in the line-up and they will be the two top-six centers.
Whether or not Girgensons or Grigorenko make the team is yet to be determined. The Sabres have traditionally let their players develop their game at the lower level without rushing them. Regier has mentioned that it would not be a reasonable move to hoist the weight of the NHL game on the shoulders of Girgensons and Grigorenko.
But, I wouldn't be surprised if one of those two join the roster next season.
The signing of the four players this week brings the total number of pro contracts in the Sabres organization to 47.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement limits the number of pro contracts to 50 max.
Ennis, as mentioned, has a qualifying offer on the table that has not been signed. The same with Patrick Kaleta.
It's assumed that both will sign with the club, bringing the total number of contracts to 49. That is effectively no wiggle room.
Which, by the way, is probably one of the reasons that the Sabres said "no thanks" to former Sabre great and certain Hall-of-Famer, Dominik Hasek, when he came knocking for an NHL contract.
For a list of their current players and contracts, click here.