By Mike Harrington
The Mikhail Grigorenko saga may be taking a fresh, bizarre twist as the 19-year-old is refusing to report to the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior League. Agent Jay Grossman confirmed to The Buffalo News via email that Grigorenko will not report but did not comment on my inquiries about what's next, including a possible look at the KHL.
The reports first came from Kathleen Lavoie of La Presse, who covers the Remparts for La Presse.
Grigorenko, remember, is not eligible to go to Rochester -- which is probably the best spot for him at this point. Players with eligibility left in a Canadian junior circuit cannot be sent to the AHL, which can put 19-year-olds like Grigorenko in limbo. There's no such agreement with the United States Hockey League, which is why an 18-year-old Zemgus Girgensons could play all last season with the Amerks.
There aren't many options here at this point. Grigorenko is under contract. Might he want out to go to the KHL? That was always one of the risks the Sabres had in drafting him. The Remparts are reportedly having a press conference with coach/GM Philippe Boucher -- the former Sabres' No. 1 pick in 1991 -- this afternoon at 4:30 to discuss the Grigorenko situation.
Coach Ted Nolan told me today after practice at Riverside's Bud Bakewell Arena that Grigorenko was upset when told he was going back to junior but that this was a "non-negotiable" decision. Grigorenko said prior to Thursday's game against Florida that he felt he belonged in the NHL, especially after improving his two-way game at the World Junior Championships.