Grigorenko or Hodgson: One will be Top 6, One will be gone

Grigorenko has a chance for a top six spot in Buffalo Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Grigorenko has a chance for a top six spot in Buffalo
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

There is an ultimatum being made in Buffalo for the upcoming season.  With Jack Eichel soon to join the roster along with Evander Kane and possibly more players, two underachieving forwards are facing an important moment in their careers.  Mikhail Grigorenko, 21, and Cody Hodgson, 26, each have had high expectations in their careers.  Both were first round picks.  Grigorenko was drafted 12th overall by the Sabres and Hodgson was drafted 10th overall by the Canucks and moved to Buffalo with Alexander Sulzer for Zack Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani.  

Will Hodgson be on his way out?
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Unfortunately for the two players, the Sabres are getting a lot better and are having an influx of talent from their system.  The Sabres top six is starting to look like an NHL-caliber top six and there are no longer many spots avaiable up there.  Jack Eichel, Matt Moulson, Tyler Ennis, Evander Kane, and Zemgus Girgensons are looking like they already have their spots for next season solidified.  That leaves one top six spot for Grigorenko or Hodgson.  

The question being asked now is why can't either player play bottom six spots.  Their style of play does not allow for them to be effective checking line forwards and their development would not be helped by playing checking line minutes.  This means that only one can really make it out of camp with that roster spot.

Whoever earns the role will play big minutes for the Sabres next year, but the other will be in a tough situation and it would be up to GM Tim Murray to make a decision.  One thing Murray can do that seems the most likely is use one of these players this offseason as an asset to acquire a goaltender that can become the Sabres franchise goalie for years to come.  

Make no mistake about it, as a Sabres fan, this is a great problem to have.  To have two high potential players battling for a roster spot and to have a team that has so much talent in its system that only one of those high potential players can make the roster shows that the Sabres are finally on their way up in the NHL.  

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