By Mike Harrington
Alexander Sulzer missed his second straight day of practice today and the Sabres defenseman, who missed Monday for what the team termed a "maintenance" day, is now iffy for Thursday's game against the New York Rangers. Interim coach Ted Nolan said he's hoping Sulzer can practice Wednesday but would probably miss the game if he didn't. Jamie McBain and Brayden McNabb have both sat out the last two games as scratches and could step in to replace him.
The Sabres have a bigger decision looming because Cody McCormick will be back in the lineup after missing the last four games. The team has to make a roster spot for McCormick and could simply ship Brian Flynn off the fourth line to Rochester. But Nolan acknowledged today that discussions continue about Mikhail Grigorenko's role on the club.
The 19-year-old could be sent back to junior or could be loaned to the Russian Federation for the upcoming World Junior Championships that open Dec. 26 in Malmo, Sweden. Grigorenko was not on the Russia roster for the tournament that was released late Monday night but said today he would be interested in playing.
"It's always good to represent your country," said Grigorenko, a standout for the Russian team in last year's tournament on home soil in Ufa. "Nobody has spoken with me. If they have put me on the list, I would have been happy. I would have been happy to play for my own country."
Grigorenko was not on the list ostensibly because he's currently in the NHL and would need to be loaned out.
"Patty and I have discussed all those possibilities," said Nolan, referring to president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine. "We have to make sure we find a good role for him. ... He's got to be playing. I've never seen a player develop not playing."
Defenseman Nikita Zadorov, recently returned to London of the OHL by the Sabres, was named to the Russian roster.
"I'm pretty sure he's going to dominate there and be one of the best players in the tournament," Grigorenko said.
Click below to hear Nolan's session with reporters today on the roster moves, plenty of thoughts on Drew Stafford and Marcus Foligno and the Sabres' continuing struggles to score goals.
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