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With World Juniors over, it's back to decision time on Ristolainen and Grigorenko

How's your Finnish? Forget TSN. Here's the how-it-sounded-back-home TV call to the folks in Helsinki and environs as Rasmus Ristolainen scores the Golden Goal to beat Sweden.

By Mike Harrington

With the World Junior Championships complete, it's back to decision time for the Sabres with their three highly-touted young stars.

Defenseman Nikita Zadorov, a tournament all-star for Russia, is certainly going back to London of the OHL so he can be a standout there and get experience playing in the Memorial Cup. As hosts, the Knights get an automatic bid to Canada's premier junior championship tournament. Easy call.

The picture is not so clear for Rasmus Ristolainen and Mikhail Grigorenko.

Ristolainen, who scored the golden goal in overtime Sunday for Finland over Sweden, played 19 games for the Sabres before heading to Rochester and then joining the Finnish team. He was named the most outstanding defenseman in the tournament.

The team's No. 1 draft pick from last June could probably use more time in the AHL rather than be thrust into an NHL lineup on a weak team. But the Sabres have holes on defense with Alexander Sulzer, Jamie McBain and Mike Weber making for marginal NHLers and resurgent Tyler Myers perhaps looking at a multi-game suspension for Saturday's hit on Dainius Zubrus of the Devils.

While there might be some temptation to bring him to the NHL, Ted Nolan and Pat LaFontaine want to develop players and not rush them and they have that avenue by sending Ristolainen back to  Rochester. It's not so easy for Grigorenko.

Grigorenko can't go to Rochester but the Sabres can send him back to junior. The Quebec Remparts have struggled to make room for him but could trade him by Tuesday's Quebec League deadline. Or the Sabres could bring him back to Buffalo and try again to see if they can get any of his offensive talent to shine at age 19 in the NHL. He led Russia in the tourney with five goals, eight points and a plus-6 rating, and scored the first goal against Canada in the Russians' bronze-medal game victory.

You be Nolan and LaFontaine for a minute. What do you do?


Mikhail Grigorenko | Rasmus Ristolainen | World Junior Championships
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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl |

About Sabres Edge

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington |

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz |