Sabres send Grigorenko to juniors, Larsson to Rochester; Hodgson and Leino to return from injury

The Sabres have made a couple of roster moves, sending two of their youngsters down in order to make room for some healthy veterans.

UPDATE: According to Canadian journalist Kathleen Lavoie, Grigorenko is refusing to report to the Remparts, because he's upset with Buffalo's decision. That's all we know so far, but we'll update this story as it develops.

UPDATE #2: TBN's John Vogl reported that Pat LaFontaine had a long talk with Grigorenko today to explain the decision (he needs to play top line minutes, can't do it in Buffalo) and while Grigorenko wasn't pleased, they came to an understanding. Vogl speculates that Grigorenko's agent (the same agent as Kovalchuk, pushed him toward this decision.

UPDATE #3: Grigorenko just posted this to his Facebook page moments ago:

Hi everyone,
I just want to apologized for the situation going on right now.

We just need to find a place for me where i can develop and be the best hockey player I can be.

I came to North America 3 years ago coming from a home in Russia where I never had a bed, a shower or heat...I work everyday to be the best hockey player I can be so I can provide for my family, have a better life... Because hockey is all I have, my passion, who I am.

I am so grateful I played in Québec with one of the best coach in the world, amazing fans, people and city. I got to play against great players who are now doing amazing in the NHL. I'm also so proud I was drafted in the NHL by the Buffalo Sabres organization. I love the city and people there. I love my neighborhood and I love the guys. They also have owners who want everyone to be happy and love their team so much.

Now I would just ask all of you guys to respect me and the time I'm taking to think about my career. It might be hard to understand but it is even harder for a teenager.

Mikhail Grigorenko's time in Buffalo this season appears to be over - the Sabres announced today that they're sending the 19-year-old back to Quebec to play for the QMJHL Remparts.

Coming off of a very solid World Junior tournament, some thought that Grigorenko might get another look for the Sabres, especially considering the team's injury concerns at forward right now. However, the return of Cody Hodgson and Ville Leino to the full-time practice lines today nullified that concern.

Both Ted Nolan, and more recently new GM Tim Murray, have stated their belief that good organizations let their players develop at the proper pace, rather than rush them to the NHL as fast as possible, as has often been the case over the past few seasons in Buffalo. Grigorenko is still only 19, and as Kris Baker of Sabres Prospects pointed out today, Thomas Vanek didn't make his NHL debut until 21, after a full year of (NHL lockout) development. Of course, the onus is now on Grigorenko to prove that he can work and compete hard while still playing against inferior competition in the Q. The Sabres rebuild is still a long way from being complete, so there's no reason to rush with their prospects anymore.

To make room for the return of both Hodgson and Leino, the Sabres also sent Johan Larsson back to the AHL, where he'll bolster the injury-riddled Amerks roster. Larsson must continue to develop his offensive game in the minors to become the true two-way forward he's projected to be someday.

Here were the new forward lines at practice today what with all the shuffling and whatnot:


Interesting to see Hodgson come back as the number two center, as well as Leino re-re-re-shuffling his way back to the pivot. Marcus Foligno has been demoted to the fourth line, while the Sabres continue to play guys they picked up on waivers on their second line (#1 pick, here we come!) They'll try these lines out in Washington tomorrow, game time 3pm.