Buffalo Sabres center Mikhail Grigorenko is in the familiar yet unwelcome position he was in during his abbreviated rookie season last year. The young player is a healthy scratch just a handful of games into the regular season due to a lack of "urgency," according to his head coach Ron Rolston, per Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News.
The 19-year-old former first-round draft pick has just one goal and five points in 29 career games spanning this and last season, and he hasn't lived up to the high expectations with which he came into the league.
It's come down to head coach Ron Rolston making the decision to sit the highly skilled center until he sees him be someone who can "be an impact in a game."
It's all fine and dandy to want to see a more competitive performance from a young player who's expected to be a point producer for your squad, but when he's not put in enough positions to succeed how can you expect him to make an impact?
While no one will—nor should they—accept this potential reasoning for Grigorenko's seeming lack of fire on the ice, one could make the argument that he feels like he's not being put in the best situation for his success. If a player feels that way, there is the potential to wonder why he should go to the tough spots when it's likely not going to pay off because of the linemates he's often put with.
That scenario is unlikely to be the case, as it would cause seemingly many more problems between player and coach than there are right now.
There is no denying the talent that Grigorenko possesses; you can see just how good he is when you watch him practice. His shot is accurate, his hands and stick skills are swift and he knows how to put the puck in the net. However, when he's put on a line with players like John Scott and Patrick Kaleta, how can one expect him to produce?
If you want to see if he has enough fight in him to "be an impact" at this level, why not stick him on one of the top two lines.
Put him between Marcus Foligno and Drew Stafford. Hell, put him on the wing with Cody Hodgson and Thomas Vanek. Either way, put him in a situation to go out there and perform. Don't give him eight minutes a night on the fourth line and expect to see a game-changing player.
It’s worth a shot. What else does the team really have to lose?