Sunday, March 17, 2013

Quick hits: Grigorenko to the "Q"; Brennan takes his slapshot to South Beach, Pysyk gets his shot

Ville Leino's return to the lineup yesterday left the team with too many roster players.

Instead of sending Brian Flynn or Marcus Foligno to Rochester, or waiving a player--sayyyy, Jochen Hecht--the Sabres instead chose to send rookie Mikhail Grigorenko back the Quebec to finish off his junior year with the Remparts.

Grigorenko made marginal strides in his play, but never showed that "wow" factor. Sending him back to junior should further his development for a return to the Sabres or a slot with Rochester either this season or next.

The overall view for the organization is that returning the 18 yr. old back to junior would further help his development. Said Darcy Regier, “This is driven by what is best for Mikhail and best for his career.”

Regier added, “He surprised all of us by being here for the length of time he has been here, and depending how far they go in the playoffs, he will be here after the season."

The Sabres burned a year on his 3-year entry-level contract, which didn't seem to bother the Sabres' GM, “It was an experiment,” he said. “There certainly are benefits. He certainly has a very good understanding of what it takes to play in the National Hockey League going forward. I think it’s very important, and he agreed, that he spend as much time as possible here in the off season training and preparing for next season.”

Interim head coach Ron Rolston agreed with the move, “With the way we were at as a team, it was difficult to give him the opportunity that he probably needed developmentally,” he said. “We just thought for our organization right now, the best thing would be for him to go and play in the playoffs and get playoff experience, and really be … a really big part of that team and be in every situation. …

“And also to go back there and be a leader, and to go back, have the right attitude and really help the young players there and just build his leadership skills.”

Kris Baker of, who follows the youngins, says that having Grigorenko with the big club for an extended stay wasn't such a bad thing, "While Grigorenko didn't stick with the big club, the two-month NHL experiment should not be deemed a failure," he said. [Grigorenko's] skating especially his stops and starts, became much improved while his exposure to an elevated pace should lead to a continued dominance at the junior level."

There was really no mistake keeping him up after his five game "audition." They made a mistake in thinking there was a stable situation with which to develop him. It's been anything but. It's a bad situation right now with Lindy Ruff getting fired, an interim coach, the team near the bottom of the league and big changes probably on the horizon.

Get the kid away from the toxic environment at the foot of Washington St. and bring him back when things stabilize, whether it be at the end of the season or end of the summer.


Regier also did something that was very "un-Regier-like" last week. He made a trade.

TJ Brennan, a 2007 second-round pick (#31 overall) was sent to Florida for a 2013 fifth-round draft pick.

Not only is it very unusual for Regier to make a trade this far in front of the trade deadline, it's also unusual for the team to give up on a prospect, especially one which they've been developing for the past five seasons.

Good for the organization and good for Brennan.

The defenseman was reunited with his Portland Pirates AHL coach, Kevin Dineen, and last night he played over 23 minutes, scored a goal and was named the game's 2nd star.

Not a bad start. 

Rolston kinda thought that it would be good for Brennan to play for Dineen again.

(via Bill Hoppe, buffalohockeybeat) "It’s a real good opportunity for him,” Rolston said yesterday afternoon. “He played with Kevin in Portland, and they have a good feel for what he can do. I’m excited. He’ll have a good opportunity there.”

Will Brennan be able to transfer his AHL scoring prowess to the NHL?

“I think so, and there were signs of it here,” Rolston said. “It’s just we were in a situation we probably couldn’t use him to the full amount in those capacities with where we were. I think eventually for him that’ll show up. They’re a real good team power play team, too, in Florida, so I’m sure they’ll use him properly.”

Brennan is considered a "powerplay specialist" who has a "booming" shot from the point.

The problem in Buffalo was that he wasn't better than the six or seven d-men in front of him and he contracted Alexi Zhitnik disease--his "booming" slapshot rarely hit the net.

When people start talking about "powerplay specialist" and "booming slapshot," the first thing that pops into my head is Ales Kotalik.

Al MacInnis-type slapshots from the point rarely get through in today's NHL with all the clogging in front of the net. A quick release is more important. Or, in the case of Mike Weber last night, a well timed wrister works just as well.

In any case, TJ Brennan and is "booming" slapshot are now in South Beach.


The trade of Brennan and another injury to Andrej Sekera has opened up a spot for a young d-man.

Rookie Mark Pysyk was recalled from the Amerks and will be in the lineup tonight as a fill-in for Sekera.

Pysyk is 21 yrs. old and has not even had a full year in Rochester yet, but he's been playing some real good hockey over there. He has 18 points and a plus-8 rating in 57 games for the Amerks, and Rolston has often commented on his poise when on the ice.

(via Paul Hamilton, WGR)
"I had [Pysyk] there for quite a bit and he's playing very well for them. He's a real smart defenseman who skates very well, good puck-mover, good defender so he's got a complete game." Rolston added, "He keeps the game really easy on himself, he's real efficient."

Good luck to Pysyk in his first NHL game tonight.


Gritty forward Patrick Kaleta has finished serving his five game suspension for the hit on the Rangers Brad Richards.

But, unfortunately for him, he'll be a healthy scratch at Washington as Rolston is sending the agitator a message.

The coach had this to say about Kaleta's missed time, "He understands what just happened and the way he’s got to play. But again, we want to balance the way he plays and not take that away from him either because that’s what makes him a valuable hockey player in this league."

The Sabres lost the Rangers game in OT and went 1-2-2 during Kaleta's suspension, a fact not lost on Rolston, "it’s a situation where he understands that sitting out five games for him wasn’t a good thing and it wasn’t a good thing for our team." The coach added, "We have to make adjustments and he has to make adjustments going forward.”

There's a new sheriff in town there, Patty.

Kaleta's response, "“I’m (ticked) off. I want to play,” Kaleta told reporters this afternoon in Washington. “And especially after watching some things, sitting there watching the game, I want to play.”

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