Slowly, the Buffalo Sabres are shedding their reputation for being an undersized team severely lacking in the toughness department. At the 2012 NHL Draft, GM Darcy Regier selected two marquee centers, Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons, with the 12th and 14th overall picks, giving them size, depth and versatility at that position.
1. (NR) Mikhail Grigorenko, C, 7.5C
Drafted 1st round, 12th overall, 2012
Based on talent alone, Mikhail Grigorenko is the top prospect in the Buffalo system. Though he was frequently placed second on pre-season draft lists, over the course of the 2011-12 season, his stock fell. There were many questions surrounding Grigorenko. His poor showing in the QMJHL playoffs was attributed to a bout with mononucleosis, but some scouts wondered if he was even really giving it his all. There is also the Russian factor, where he might return to the KHL if he is not satisfied with his career in North America.
In terms of boom-or-bust potential, he is certainly Buffalo's most high-risk, high-reward prospect. He has the talent to be a first-line center, but there is also a good chance he becomes a third-line power forward with some offensive ability. If he pans out, he may turn out to be one of Buffalo's better centermen in recent years. Grigorenko likely will return to the Quebec Remparts for 2012-13 where he will build up more strength and learn to play with more consistency.