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Buffalo Sabres sign top pick, forward Mikhail Grigorenko, to 3-year deal

Mikhail Grigorenko, a center from Russia, pulls on a Buffalo Sabres cap after being chosen 12th overall in the first round of the NHL hockey draft on Friday, June 22, 2012, in Pittsburgh. The Sabres signed their top draft choice on Wednesday, forward Grigorenko, to a three-year, entry-level contract. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Keith Srakocic

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Mikhail Grigorenko, a center from Russia, pulls on a Buffalo Sabres cap after being chosen 12th overall in the first round of the NHL hockey draft on Friday, June 22, 2012, in Pittsburgh. The Sabres signed their top draft choice on Wednesday, forward Grigorenko, to a three-year, entry-level contract. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Keith Srakocic

BUFFALO, N.Y. - The Sabres signed their top draft choice on Wednesday, forward Mikhail Grigorenko, to a three-year, entry-level contract.

Grigorenko was selected No. 12 overall, and was the third-ranked North American skater and top North American centre on NHL Central Scouting's final rankings. A native of Khabarovsk, Russia, Grigorenko is Buffalo's highest forward selection since Thomas Vanek was the No. 5 overall choice in 2003.

In 2011-12, Grigorenko had 40 goals and 85 points in his first Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season.

"We're thrilled and excited to have him under contract for the next three years," Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said. "And we are thrilled and excited to have his skill level and his ability as a player in our organization."

Grigorenko led all first-year players in the QMJHL in goals and points, and was second in regular-season assists (45).

"Now, I can really feel that I am 100 per cent a part of this organization," Grigorenko said. "The next step for me is to make the team and play in the NHL."

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