But alas, there was a feud brewing in Toronto. A new general manager in Dave Nonis bought out his underused Belarusian center Mihail Grabovski. Understandably furious, Grabovski flings harsh words at Toronto Head Coach Randy Carlyle, and retreats to his wedding.
Talent wise, it is an obvious fit. He is a highly skilled hockey player, and his tools weren’t handled properly by the Maple Leafs, as evident in the always great Japers' Rink take on Grabovski. He is capable of scoring 20 plus goals and adding 20 plus assists a season, as he’s done numerous times in his career.
But, fancy stats aside, is he really what the Caps want?
I’m not denying the fact that he is a good hockey player, because he is. But if you do follow my Caps twitter account (@Capitals_Blog), you have seen that I’m not a big fan of Grabovski. There are numerous red flags that stand out to me.
It is well known to just about every hockey fan in the world at this point that the Caps always let us down during the playoffs. The vast majority of our players can’t seem to shake those playoff jitters, and they don’t play to the capabilities that the DC faithful know they can. Look at some of our current centers and those in the past. Nicklas Backstrom averages just barely over a point a game in the regular season, which is phenomenal, but only averages just over .75 points per game in the playoffs. Mathieu Perreault averages .44 points per game in the regular season versus .36 in the playoffs. Former Cap Brendan Morrison is .64 versus .49. And former Capital Tomas Flischmann is .59 versus .27.
The Caps for the most part have had centers who play vastly different games between the regular season and playoffs. You may think that is obvious. Players understandably can get nervous in the playoffs. But look at a second line center like Ryan Kesler, who is .61 points per game in the regular season versus .66 in the playoffs. Henrik Zetterberg is nearly identical. Mike Richards is .74 versus .79. And Fedorov? He was .94 versus .96.
And Grabovski? He’s .59 versus .29.
I know, I know. It’s really not all that fair to judge Grabovski considering he has played in seven career playoff games. But numbers are numbers. And on top of that, with all of the Caps playoff woes, do we really want a guy who is going to turn 30 next season and has only played in seven playoff games?
On top of his rant against Carlyle, Grabovski has plenty more errors in judgement. How about the way he left Montreal? In an excerpt from Dave Kellerman of Hockey Inside/Out:
The fun would soon end. On March 7, 2008, Guy Carbonneau changed everything. He benched Grabovski against the Phoenix Coyotes. Grabovski went ballistic and refused to get on the team bus after the game. When his teammates pleaded with him to get on for fear of missing their flight, Grabovski walked past Carbonneau and gave him a nasty stare, then suddenly turned sharply towards team president Pierre Boivin and told him “This was my last flight with the Canadiens.” And with that, Grabovski missed the flight, forever changing Canadiens’ history.Grabovski was immediately shipped to Toronto.
And then there is his past feud with fellow Belarusian teammate Sergei Kostitsyn. Or how about his arrest and eventual law suit in Vancouver, where he assaulted a fan when he was out with a broken wrist? Or maybe even his infamous incident with Max Pacioretty, where he admitted to biting him on the arm?
Interestingly enough, all of these incidences involved the Montreal Canadiens. Even the fan he assaulted was a Canadiens fan. And now, add Toronto on his hate list. But, would we really have to baby sit Grabovski each time he is about to lose his temper? Does that sound like a player that our great coach in Adam Oates would like to have on his team?
Even though McPhee claims to be all set in free agency, I’m not buying it. I do believe he is talking with the Grabovski camp, especially after signing Karl Alzner to a $2.8 million contract.
The issue that will arise is similar to that of Mike Ribeiro. Money most likely won’t be an issue, as
Grabovski is already making $1,791,667 per year from Toronto until 2021. But, contract length will be. He’s going to want a multi-year deal to give himself some stability, and McPhee won’t budge past a one or two year deal. On top of that, Capitals prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov is expected to come to Washington after the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and he is capable of playing center on the second line.
McPhee shouldn’t budge. There is no need for Grabovski. We already have an adequate filler at the second line for the little time it may be necessary.
It’s Brooks Laich.