The Buffalo Sabres have assigned rookie forward Mikhail Grigorenko to the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, according to John Vogl of the Buffalo News on Friday afternoon.
Grigorenko had made the Sabres out of training camp, despite his flexibility to be sent back to juniors. In the NHL, a junior-eligible player can play a certain amount of games prior to officially starting his entry-level contract. Grigorenko, who was selected with the No. 12 overall selection in the 2012 NHL Draft, was such a player.
In most years, junior eligible players can participate in nine games prior to their entry-level contract beginning. However, with the lockout shortened 2013 season, that number was cut to five games.
For most teams, the shortened season made it illogical for junior-eligible players to play the full year. The reason being is that clubs like to have control over players for as long as they possibly can. Instead of starting a player's entry-level contract in half a season, most teams opted to send these kinds of players back to juniors so that they could fully utilize the player's first year in the NHL (meaning: have them play more than 48 NHL games).
The Sabres were not one of these teams.
The decision became scrutinized when Grigorenko was used sparingly. Averaging less than 10 minutes of ice-time per night, there were 11 occasions were Grigorenko played 10 minutes or less (he only played in 22 games).
Given his contract situation, it's questionable why the club would keep an 18-year-old player just to have him sit on the bench. Now that they have sent him back to juniors, the decision is even worse given that he is one-year closer to his next contract.