Occasional provider of useful information Steve Simmons wrote about reasons Mikhail Grabovski was not signed early on in the free agency period. It may be wise to hit “CTRL+F” to find your way down to the relevant section, especially if you’re feeling a tad nauseous, dehydrated, and would like to keep your lunch in your belly:
The reason Mikhail Grabovski remains unsigned: According to one NHL GM, he wanted too much money and too much term in the early days of free agency.
“He was trying to cash in on getting the buyout and double dipping,” a general manager said. “And once everybody who wanted a centre signed them, there was no place for him to get the kind of deal he wanted.”
Now he’s unlikely to end up with either large money or long term. Although there are questions other than money about Grabovski that have been pondered in this strange hockey summer.
The rest of the analysis is hilarious. Simmons has waged a bit of a war against anybody who might think Mikhail Grabovski is a useful player. He pointed out that Grabovski did better under Ron Wilson’s “free-flow offence” and neglects to mention that the Leafs allowed fewer shots against under Wilson than they did under Randy Carlyle.
I can imagine why Grabovski might want to double-dip. Had he simply gone to free agency this year pursuing the normal route rather than a buy-out, he’d likely have more suitors. NHL general managers like to target certain players, and it wasn’t until a day before the window opened that it was known Grabovski would be on the market. As somebody who covers the Leafs and has watched just about each of their games over the last three seasons, I have to say that the decision by ex-Vancouver general manager Dave Nonis to buy him out was stupid, and it was stupid then, and it’s stupid now no matter who has or hasn’t signed Grabovski. It’s been written ad nauseum. Grabovski is a good hockey player and the fact he is unsigned is peculiar.
It’s no secret that the Canucks are as thin at centre as 2012 Calgary Flames first rounder Mark Jankowski. Brad Richardson took 56 faceoffs for the Los Angeles Kings last year and has been slot into that third-line centre role. Maxim Lapierre wound up playing up-and-down the lineup last year in the absence of Ryan Kesler, and the team also deployed diminutive probably-not-an-impact-NHLer Jordan Schroeder and Andrew Ebbett in top six roles.
Grabovski makes sense here, and he makes more sense if he’s cheap. How he performed under Carlyle aside, the fact is that Grabovski was the second-highest scoring Maple Leaf over the last three seasons and the last four seasons. [Hockey Reference]
His usage this season was defensive and restrictive, and Carlyle was made out to be some kind of savant because Leafs shooters caught lightning in a bottle and powered the team to the playoffs with percentages in front of very strong goaltending. The only regular to not have a PDO of over 100% on the Maple Leafs was Mikhail Grabovski, yet he still ended up with a Relative Corsi of +1.0 over 60 minutes despite starting 252 faceoffs in the defensive zone to just 146 in the offensive zone, a high Corsi Rel QoC and a low Corsi Rel QoT. He somehow managed a positive penalties drawn to taken ratio as well. [Behind the Net]
Just doing some math here, if Grabovski is being paid $2,687,500.00 over the next eight seasons by the blue and white ATM in Maple Leaf Square, he’ll need to be paid a little over $3-million to make back the money he lost due to the buyout. Is there room to fit him for $3-million in the Canucks current roster?
A $3-million contract, plus $1.2-million to Chris Tanev, puts the Canucks slightly below the cap. Some extra space will be made midseason by the injuries that are expected to come to David Booth and Ryan Kesler, though for the Canucks to have a chance at winning the Pacific Division those two will probably need to be healthy and productive.
That said, there is both space and an argument for the Canucks to sign Grabovski. One or two years isn’t particularly high-risk, and the fact that no teams seem interested in Grabovski shouldn’t put off Mike Gillis. The fact is that the Canucks should be looking at Grabovski particularly because nobody else is. With so much cash tied up in no-trade clauses, the Canucks need to exploit market inefficiencies to round up the rest of their roster. Paying the Brad Richardsons and Dale Weises of the world market value isn’t going to accomplish the goal of improving the Canucks in the short-term.
There’s definitely a potential clash of personalities between Grabovski and John Tortorella, but Grabovski’s a risk worth taking. If he can skate the way he was in the 2011 and 2012 seasons, he’s an injection of life the Canucks roster needs, since this team is on the verge of being very, very boring to watch.
Mike Gillis has talked about having a roster spot open for one of the kids to compete for, but I think that Schroeder should be in that competition. If he’s one of the 12 NHL forwards the team has under contract, it’s an indication the Canucks don’t have enough depth to make it through a full season. They need skill, they need speed, and they need centremen. Most of all, Grabovski needs a team. It may not fit as well as Cinderella’s slipper, but it’s a chance worth taking.