Something has to give very soon with former Quebec Remparts star Mikhail Grigorenko's predicament with the Buffalo Sabres and it might happen this week, really. The 19-year-old Russian centre has been a ghostly presence since the return of Ted Nolan in mid-November, dressing for only three games and seeing limited ice in each.
Is a loan to Team Russia, whom Grigorenko helped win silver in 2012 and bronze in '13, in order? The Sabres were denied in their attempt to send their former first-rounder to the American Hockey League on a conditioning stint, as the Los Angeles Kings did with Brayden Schenn during his age-19 year in 2010-11 before being forced to return him to the Western league. It sounds like a loan might be the remedy.
From Amy Moritz (@TBN_Moritz):
Playing for the Russian World Juniors team is something Grigorenko would be interested in. After all, he was a standout for his home country last year.
“It’s always good to represent your country,” Grigorenko said. “Nobody has spoken with me. If they have put me on the list, I would have been happy. I would have been happy to play for my own country.”
But the list is not necessarily complete and Nolan said he and Pat LaFontaine, president of hockey operations, would be talking about possibilities for Grigorenko, including loaning him to the Russian team.
“We’re not 100 percent sure what we’re going to do,” Nolan said. “We’re discussing it. We have a lot of possibilities to look at.”
A return to the Quebec league would seem like a huge step down for Grigorenko, who was able to get ice time in Buffalo last season following the lockout. Under a fairly controversial Canadian Hockey League rule, if he ended up with the Remparts some time after his league's trade deadline, the club would be allowed to carry three imports. (That's also a possibility for the OHL's London Knights, although it's pretty remote that Olli Maatta would come back from the Pittsburgh Penguins.)
The rule, which has been panned for helping the rich get richer, states a team can play three if a NHL first-round pick starts the year in the big league before being sent back. It's meant to keep a younger import from being uprooted in the middle of the year while trying to adapt to a new culture.
Anyway, there could be some Grigorenko drama. Moritz also notes that the Sabres could loan 19-year-old defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen, who sustained possible brain trauma in a recent AHL game, to Team Finland.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to email@example.com.