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

Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

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.