Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo Sabres Send Youngsters Mikhail Grigorenko and Nikita Zadorov Packing


When Pat LaFontaine and Ted Nolan took over last week they brought a new philosophy to the Buffalo Sabres and part of that philosophy is related to young players. Nolan doesn’t believe the Buffalo Sabres should be rushing their top young players, which they have been doing, and ruining their confidence by having them sit in the press box.

So yesterday after practice Nolan offered this up in a warning that moves were coming;

“We have so many young guys here, and it’s almost like going back to junior hockey in some sense. Patty and I have been talking for the last three, four days about that. I didn’t realize how young they really were and the positions that they’re in and the capabilities of what they can do besides playing here.”

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Ted Nolan doesn’t want to carry so many young players and today the hammer fell on

many of the Buffalo Sabres top prospects. Mikhail Grigorenko will be sent down to the Rochester Americans on a conditioning assignment, Nikita Zadorov will be heading back to the London Knights in the OHL and Rasmus Ristolainen and Johan Larsson have been sent to the Rochester Americans. Just like that the only rookies to survive the first round of cuts are Zemgus Girgensons and Mark Pysyk.

Now I personally like the moves and much like Nolan believe the Sabres were rushing their prospects a bit too much. They need time to develop, build up and grow confidence before the majority of them can play strong in the NHL. Not to mention if all their going to do is rot in the press box you may as well send them where they will get some ice time. Both Zadorov and Ristolainen know then can play in the NHL so they will have no issues with their confidence.

Funny last week I wrote about how the Buffalo Sabres needed to send Zadorov back to junior, maybe they’re reading my stuff? Now most of the moves are pretty straight forward. Zadorov will be back on the Knights blue line joining fellow Sabres prospect Brady Austin, where he will average roughly 30 minutes a night and have an opportunity to challenge for the Memorial Cup under Dale Hunter.

Ristolainen and Larsson will both fit in nicely with the Rochester Americans and become leaders of the Sabres farm team. Ristolainen will get the ice time and hopefully show some other Sabres defence prospects how to play strong D, while Larsson will have an opportunity to improve his offence.

Where things get tricky is pertaining to Mikhail Grigorenko. His Remparts already have 2 import players and can’t take on another without trading one in the next two week.  Grigorenko could still end up with the Remparts if the organization isn’t happy with his progress.

These moves open the door for Grigorenko and Zadorov to play in the World Junior Championship during Christmas, gaining even more valuable experience.It’s expected that the Sabres will call up Patrick Kaleta, Luke Adam and Brayden McNabb to replace the youngsters. Do these moves mean Nolan has accepted the fate of losing or wants a more veteran group to push forward with? Boy is it ever a “new era” in Buffalo, but hopefully these moves help make the prospects stronger and better the Sabres in the long run.

Tags: Buffalo Sabres Mikhail Grigorenko Nikita Zadorov Roster Moves

  • [email protected]

    I think since they have had some NHL time, they will know what to expect when they do come back, and what parts of their game they need to hone better while they play in the minors. Good move by Nolan for now.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      I think it’s a solid move as well for them to hone their skills and get better.

      • Jes

        I love that word Hone

  • Kevin

    What about Flynn? Send him down too.

    • Jes

      I know he had 2-3 games where he was actually good since then he’s been a no show.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      yeah, that’s a good point. Surprised they’re keeping him he’s been quiet as of late. There’s lots of talk more kids will get the boot come Christmas

    • BryanD

      To bad we couldn’t send Myers back down “conditioning assignment” his game just isn’t there he has one or two moments for brilliance and then skates aimlessly. A trip to the Amerks could snap him out of this whatever causing this slump in performance. Problem is he has a Regier-contract so he’s going to be in buffalo for a while. To bad Buffalo doesn’t have a ECHL team I’d send Grigorenko there.

      • Jes

        Have you watched the 2 games Nolan has coached thus far? Myers has been so much better than what he’s been shelling out in the past. Myers deserves to be on the big club. And another thing is he should be on that first PP instead of Ehrhoff. Unlike Ehrhoff, Myers shots actually hit the net.

        • BryanD

          I did say moments of brilliance lol he’s still in the minuses

    • Joe

      Flynn plays hard and has earned his spot on the team. He hasnt been put in a position to succeed yet this year

  • Jes

    Exactly what me and CC been saying and everyone basically disagreed and it finally happened (y).

    What’s with Grigorenko being sent down to the Rochester Amerks for a conditioning assignment? I thought he couldn’t be sent down to the AHL?

    • Caitlin Campbell

      See Jes, we should be running this team! These young guys need work and need to earn their shot. It sounds as if there was a lot of hostility towards the youngsters from the vets.
      The Sabres petitioned the CHL and they allowed them to keep him for 2 weeks, after that he either goes back to the Sabres or to QMHJL.

  • wolfdoctor

    “Do these moves mean Nolan has accepted the fate of losing or wants a more veteran group to push forward with?”

    I think it means he believes there is a better chance of winning without all the “over their head” teenagers on the team.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      that’s a very good point. The Vets feel that the rookies haven’t had to work hard and there’s a chance those rookie feel the same

      • wolfdoctor

        I just think that 18 and 19 year olds are for the most case not physically mature enough to compete with older players on an ongoing basis and they tend to make more costly mistakes.

        • qwicwted

          I agree and I would rather have them play than sit in a press box. I support the move, I just hope that Scott and Kaleta keep it under control.

  • davidmuscalo

    I saw this coming last week when Nolan sat the kids out during both Toronto games. I said that Nolan wants to win games and not try to train raw talent. The main purpose for the minors is to develop players with raw talent into complete hockey players and advance their careers to the point where they can compete in the NHL.