WASHINGTON -- Buffalo Sabres interim head coach Ted Nolan said Sunday the organization was surprised by prospect Mikhail Grigorenko's decision not to report to a junior club in Canada.
"We knew obviously players would be disappointed when something like that happened," Nolan said, "but no indication that he wouldn't report."
The Sabres assigned the Russian centre to the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League on Saturday, hoping the 19-year-old former first-round draft pick would get some top-line minutes. Grigorenko has struggled to adapt to the NHL in parts of two seasons, with eight points in 43 career games since he was selected No. 12 overall in 2012.
But Grigorenko says he won't go to Quebec. He apologized on Facebook on Saturday, adding: "We just need to find a place for me where I can develop and be the best hockey player I can be."
Nolan said he doesn't know what the next step will be for Grigorenko and Sabres team president Pat LaFontaine.
"It's one thing that you learn -- what you can control, what you can't control," Nolan said. "Him and Pat will take care of that."
The Sabres would prefer that Grigorenko play for their Rochester AHL affiliate, but an agreement between the NHL and the Canadian Hockey League doesn't allow teenagers to play in the AHL. Buffalo tried to send Grigorenko to Rochester on a conditioning assignment in November, but the NHL denied the request.
Grigorenko has played well in previous stints in juniors, posting 139 points in two seasons with Quebec, including 30 goals in 33 games last season.
"P.K. Subban played four years in Belleville, and he turned out pretty good," Nolan said of the Montreal Canadiens defenceman. "Junior hockey's a good place to develop."
Grigorenko recently returned from the world junior championships in Malmo, Sweden, where he led Russia to the bronze medal with eight points in seven games.