I am pretty sure you are right about the Grand Prix. I think that, except for the host's exemption, you have to be in the top 75 in the ISU ranking to get an assignment, even as the wild card in some other country's event. I doubt if Sasha would want to go to competitions like Nebelhorn, Karl Schaeffer, etc. -- or that the USFSA would push her to do so.Either way, if she does indeed go forward and is viable in the fall, it will be interesting also to see what wildcard "spots" (if any) she is granted by USFS for some international competition experience. While ISU points go back 3 years, with the 3rd year back given less emphasis than the most recent 2, I don't believe she would be in position to be granted anything more than a wildcard spot at the host country event - Skate America - which is in the coming season NOT the first event...
On the other hand, as we know, the USFSA does like to put on a big show at Skate America, independent of advancing the fortunes of U.S. skaters trying to make the GP final. They could invite Sasha to Skate America just so they could feature Sasha at Skate America and rack up the ticket sales and TV rating points. And if Sasha bombed there, it would give her an opportunity to back away more gracefully (oops, that old injury acting up again) than if she waited until U.S. Nationals.
Sasha doesn't have to compete in any event before Nationals. She has an automatic bye for being a reigning Olympic medalist -- unlike Michelle, who would have to go through sectionals and regionals, unless she could find some international competition instead that just happened be held on the right day.
Talk about stealing someone's spot. What if you were that young girl hoping against hope to get fourth in the California sectional and make it to regionals -- suddenly you look up and there's Michelle Kwan! (Oh well, at least you can get her autograph. )