2009-10: Mikhail Grigorenko represented Russia in the 2009 Ivan Hlinka (U18) Memorial Tournament at the 2010 World U-17 Hockey Challenge and skated for CSKA Moscow’s 1993-born team. At the Ivan Hlinka tournament he scored one goal in four games and had two penalty minutes. He was Russia’s second-leading scorer at the World Hockey Challenge behind Alexander Khokhlachev – finishing with 4 goals and 6 assists in six games. In 21 games for CSKA Moscow, Grigorenko scored 19 goals with 25 assists and had 6 goals with 6 assists in six games at the Russian U17 Championships.
2010-11: Grigorenko played for CSKA-Red Army Moscow in Russia’s Minor Hockey League (MHL). In 43 games, he scored 17 goals and added 18 assists and was plus-nine. In 10 playoff games, Grigorenko scored 1 goal and added 4 assists for 5 points for the MHL champions. Grigorenko played for Russia at the 2010 World Junior A Challenge, scoring 3 goals and adding 3 assists in four games. Grigorenko also played for Russia at the 2011 U-18 World Junior Championship, scoring 4 goals and adding 14 assists in seven games for the bronze medal squad. Grigorenko was chosen in the first round, 8th overall, of the 2011 KHL Draft by CSKA Moscow and was chosen in the first round, 2nd overall, of the 2011 CHL Import Draft by the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts.
2011-12: Grigorenko skated for the Quebec Remparts in his first season in North America and also represented Russia at the 2012 U20 World Junior Championships. Grigorenko was the second-leading scorer for the Remparts, finishing with 40 goals and 45 assists and was plus-35 with 12 penalty minutes in 64 games. In 11 playoff games he scored 3 goals with 7 assists and was -2 with 4 PMs. Grigorenko skated in 6 of 7 games at the WJC for silver-medal winning Russia, suffering a minor ankle injury against Latvia. He scored 2 goals with 3 assists in the tournament. Grigorenko was the third-ranked North American skater in the final Central Scouting rankings prior to the 2012 NHL Draft.
2012-13: Grigorenko signed a three-year entry-level contract with Buffalo in July 2012 and played in 25 games with the Sabres following the NHL lockout. He skated in a lower line role with the Sabres and was returned to his junior team for a month late in the season. Grigorenko scored 1 goal with 4 assists and was -1; averaging 10:14 minutes of ice time. He played two AHL playoff games with Rochester and was -2 with no points. Grigorenko was dominant in junior hockey with the Quebec Remparts and with Russia’s U20 team in the 2013 World Junior Championship. He scored 30 goals with 24 assists and was +10 with 8 penalty minutes in 33 games for the Remparts. Quebec was third in the East Division and advanced to the second round. Grigorenko scored 5 goals with 9 assists and was -1 in 11 QMJHL playoff games. In six games at the WJC he scored 2 goals with 3 assists as Russia captured a bronze medal.
Grigorenko’s talent level is undeniable. He is a gifted offensive center who possesses great patience with the puck and the ability to thread passes all over the ice. He is a smooth skater and has the potential to be a top scorer in the NHL. Grigorenko has been criticized for inconsistent and disinterested play in the past, though he has played through injuries.
Grigorenko got his first taste of the NHL last year and struggled, though he fared much better in his second stint at the end of the season. Barring any setbacks, Grigorenko is expected to be a full-time contributor to the Sabres this fall.