It's been a whirlwind week for Mikhail Grigorenko. He got his first call up on Tuesday, traveling out to Winnipeg as the Buffalo Sabres dealt with a sudden slew of injuries.
He was assigned back to Rochester Wednesday, playing two games with the Amerks before getting recalled again to the Sabres, this time joining the team in Buffalo for their contest in First Niagara Center Saturday night.
The 20-year old has learned how to take care of his body, including plenty of sleep and hydration. And he's also learned to balance the emotions that come with bouncing between the NHL and American Hockey League.
"Going to NHL from AHL you’re just really excited and you focus on work hard and skating and trying to play good," Grigorenko said Saturday after taking morning skate with the Sabres. "Going down back to AHL from NHL is just you feel more comfortable and more confident about your game. You just played in the NHL. Last two games I didn’t have points but I held the puck on my tape a lot and I thought I was confident out there."
Grigorenko, a first-round draft choice of Buffalo in 2012, played 18 games for the Sabres last year before being returned to his junior team in Quebec.
He had a solid training camp and impressed Sabres coach Ted Nolan.
"I did a 360-turn on him from when I got here last year to this year, particularly in training camp," Nolan said. "What he did with his off-ice conditioning and the way he performed during training camp, arguably he was one of our best players in training camp. He made strides in the right direction for sure.
"You see potential. That’s the biggest thing. You see how skilled he is and how he sees the ice. Obviously we still have to get his game to the next level but that’s what you see and the secret is to get the potential out of him at this level."
At the time, Grigorenko said his call-up for the Winnipeg game was one of the happiest moments of his career. The reason complements the maturing process Nolan likes to cite with younger players. This promotion, Grigorenko believes, was earned. And that makes all the difference.
"I was just really happy," Grigorenko said. "I had a good camp and after I went to the AHL I had good games there. I was not waiting but hoping you know that I’m going to get called up and finally it happened. It made me feel like I don't know if I can say it, like I earned it or something. It made me feel really good and I was real excited."