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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - The Buffalo Sabres have assigned rookie center Mikhail Grigorenko to his former Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team.

Grigorenko's demotion to the Quebec Remparts, announced Friday, is a significant setback for the team and player, who was selected 12th overall in the NHL draft last June. The Sabres elected to keep the 18-year-old on their roster after five games this season, a decision that meant Grigorenko could begin collecting the first year of his three-year contract.

"This isn't driven by a roster move, this is driven by what isbest for Mikhail and his career" said Sabres GM Darcy Regier, " we talked today and we've been talking about this for a while. I think this is an opportunity for him to keep growing and building on his experience here".

Grigorenko has one goal and four assists in 22 games.

"It was an experiment, there certainly was benefits. He has a very good understanding of what it is going to take to play in the National Hockey League going forward" added Regier, "based on my conversations with him I thinkthis has been a very good thing andI think he has a very good mindset".

Buffalo had to free up roster spots to welcome back forward Ville Leino, who's missed 27 games with a hip injury. Forward Patrick Kaleta is set to return for Buffalo's game at Washington on Sunday after serving a five-game NHL suspension.