Mikhail Grigorenko balks at QMJHL
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Buffalo Sabres prospect Mikhail Grigorenko will not report to the Quebec Remparts after Buffalo assigned its former first-round pick to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League club Saturday.
Grigorenko's agent, Jay Grossman, confirmed that the center will not report but did not provide additional details in a text message to The Associated Press.
Grigorenko, 19, has been unhappy to not be staying with the NHL team after recently returning from the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships in Malmo, Sweden, where he led Russia to the bronze medal with eight points in seven games.
"He was a little bit upset I imagine, but this is non-negotiable," interim coach Ted Nolan said. "It's one of those things that has to be done."
Grigorenko has struggled to adapt to the NHL in parts of two seasons, with just eight points in 43 career games since Buffalo selected him with the 12th pick of the 2012 NHL draft.
"You look at this draft year, there are only two in the year who are playing and one's having a little trouble," Nolan said, adding, "Development is crucial."
"If he wants it enough and he wants to be here, then he'll work at it."
The Sabres also announced leading scorer Cody Hodgson has been activated from the injured reserve, giving the improving team another boost in its quest to escape the bottom of the league's standings.
New Buffalo general manager Tim Murray also recalled defenseman Brayden McNabb from Buffalo's AHL affiliate in Rochester, and sent defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen and left wing Johan Larsson down to Rochester.
Buffalo is 6-4-3 since Dec. 10 as Nolan has started to turn around a team that opened the season with the worst start in franchise history.
Hodgson is tied for the team lead with eight goals and is first on the Sabres with 11 assists and 19 points but has missed 10 of Buffalo's past 13 games.
Both Hodgson (hand) and center Ville Leino (lower body) are expected to return for Sunday's game in Washington. Leino has just six points in 26 games this season.
Ristolainen also starred in the world junior tournament, scoring the overtime game-winning goal for Finland in the final against Sweden. The eighth overall pick of the 2013 draft has one goal in 19 games for Buffalo and has not played poorly.
The Sabres started the season 4-15-1, prompting the firing of general manager Darcy Regier and coach Ron Rolston on Nov. 13. The same day, Buffalo owner Terry Pegula hired Pat LaFontaine as team president, who installed Nolan as interim coach and began a search for the team's new general manager.
Murray was hired Thursday as the seventh general manager in franchise history, and LaFontaine tabbed Hockey Hall of Fame member Craig Patrick as a special adviser.
Nolan was asked about rumors that Murray was prepared to remove the interim tag from his head-coaching job.
"I hope he does, but it's not one of my things I'm thinking about," Nolan said. "It's trying to get this team better right now and coaching this team to the best of my ability. Whatever happens down the road will happen. I feel confident in my ability but we'll see.
"We had brief discussions about it but not necessarily directly at it."
Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press
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