While Sportsnet’s John Shannon notes that the Buffalo Sabres are being coy about it, Mikhail Grabovski made it pretty clear on his Facebook page that he’s playing for Russia in the 2014 World Junior Hockey Championship tournament alongside his Buffalo teammate Nikita Zadorov:
It wouldn’t be surprising if the Sabres brass is privately pleased with this move, which wasn’t a certainty as Grigorenko wasn’t officially named to Russia’s pre-tournament camp.
They tried to demote him to the AHL on Nov. 20, but the NHL rejected their bid to give the 19-year-old a “conditioning assignment.” So maybe go overseas to Sweden to play in this tournament could be a useful “conditioning assignment”?
Sure, it’s probably a level or three below the competition he’d see as a temporary member of the Rochester Americans, yet it opens up a spot for the Sabres to work with. The Buffalo News reports that Cody McCormick would be the likely guy to take Grigorenko’s spot.
Update Dec. 5, 11:53 a.m.
The Sabres have made an official announcement that Grigorenko will be joining Team Russia.