BUFFALO – In a not-so-surprising move, the Sabres sent 19-year-old center Mikhail Grigorenko back to the Quebec Remparts late Monday, according to RDS, a Canadian sports network.
Grigorenko has been scratched both games under interim coach Ted Nolan, who has strongly hinted he doesn’t think the Sabres should have four teenagers on the roster.
UPDATE: Grigorenko was just seen leaving the building this morning. Rookie defenseman Nikita Zadorov isn’t on the ice and has likely been sent back to junior.
According to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, winger Patrick Kaleta isn’t practicing with the Amerks this morning.
Center Johan Larsson and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, two rookies, appear to have been sent to the AHL.
Nolan has been talking with Pat LaFontaine, the new president of hockey operations, about moves.
“I didn’t realize how young they really were, the positions that they’re in and the capabilities of what they could do besides playing here,” Nolan, who took over for Ron Rolston on Wednesday, said earlier Monday inside the First Niagara Center.
The Sabres have now sent the Russian back to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, a place he has dominated, two straight seasons.
Grigorenko has struggled with the Sabres, compiling only three goals and eight points in 40 games. Two of the goals came in one game earlier this month.
Former general manager Darcy Regier guaranteed Grigorenko, the 12th overall pick in 2012, a roster spot during the summer. But he spent six weeks mostly skating on the fourth line or getting scratched.
The Sabres needed to make room for defenseman Mike Weber, who’s set to return from a broken thumb tonight against the St. Louis Blues.
Some players could be recalled from Rochester, Nolan said.
“There’s a couple players playing exceptionally well down there that deserve an opportunity,” Nolan said.
Nolan said he wants to stop “force-feeding.”
“Everything is subject for change right now,” he said.
Sabres tough guy John Scott said Monday his “Princess Phaneuf” comment about Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf was a “slip of the tongue.”
“Obviously, a little emotional at the time,” Scott said about his comment Saturday. “I haven’t trademarked it. I kind of regretted it.”
Following the Sabres’ 4-2 loss in Toronto, Scott said Phaneuf “bailed” as he approached him. A mini-melee ensued, and Scott received 14 penalty minutes for doing very little, effectively ending his night.
“All of a sudden I’m not allowed to hit him anymore,” Scott told MSG. “He’s ‘Princess Phaneuf.’ It’s a joke. … I guess you’re not allowed to hit the star guys anymore in this league.”
Scott called the nickname a “non-issue.”
“I just once again kind of shoot my mouth off, a little too fired up after the game and said something, didn’t really realize it was going to get the traction it’s kind of gotten,” he said.
Nolan on meeting Sabres goalie Ryan Miller: “You can tell how much he loves Buffalo and how much of a competitor he really is and how disappointed he is with the season. That was enough for me right there. You can see why he’s one of the league’s best goaltenders.”
Expect Miller, who’s played 15 of the 22 games, to receive even more action. Nolan wanted to play him Saturday, although backup Jhonas Enroth was already slated to start.
“But now we’re putting on our own stamp on it,” Nolan said.
Nolan, who first watched the Sabres on Tuesday against Los Angeles, a game they won 3-2 in a shootout despite getting outshot 45-17, said he sees a “night-and-day difference” in the team after coaching two games.
“Now these guys, they’re not that bad,” Nolan said. “We just need some direction with how we’re going to play and then make them feel good.”
Former Sabres center Derek Roy will make his first appearance here since the Sabres traded him to Dallas in July 2012. Roy has five goals and 11 points in 19 games in his first season with the Blues. He’s been playing wing.