As if the Buffalo Sabres needed another thing to go wrong for them this season.
The Sabres made a decision that many probably saw coming earlier this weekend, sending Mikhail Grigorenko back to the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL. The fact that it was expected didn’t make the Sabres look any better.
Grigorenko managed to stay up with the Sabres after the deadline to send players back to juniors without burning a year of their contract. After that point, he got very quiet. He had just three points since the month of March started and only five on the year overall.
When Ville Leino was ready to return, the Sabres needed the roster spot. Which was the determining factor in sending the 18-year-old back to juniors. This is probably a decision that should have been made long ago.
Grigorenko was drafted 12th overall by the Sabres in last summer’s NHL Entry Draft. He’s a big kid and a very good playmaker. He could be a regular in the All Star Game in the not-too-distant future. But it wasn’t going to be this year. Especially with the Sabres playing him so little over the course of each game.
He was averaging just under 10 minutes of ice time per game, and that amount declined even more towards the end of his brief time with the Sabres. If the Sabres weren’t going to play him, what exactly was the point of having him around? Of course, there was a coaching change in the middle of all of that, which may have played some part in it.
The Sabres have now burned a year of his contract, and may have stalled his development in having him spend so much time on the bench towards the end. For that, they absolutely deserve the criticism headed in their direction.