Grabovskiâ€“ Should He Stay, Or Should He Go?
Mikhail Grabovski is a pending Restricted Free Agent this summer. Brian Burke will have exclusive rights to discuss an extension with the Belorussian, but it remains to be seen if he wants to retain him. Decisions, decisionsâ€¦
Many have tagged Grabovski as a head-case whose attitude is a detriment inside the locker room (well, thatâ€™s what Montreal Canadiens fans say anyway). To prove this, one may point to the two altercations that transpired between Grabovski and teammate Jason Blake this season. The most recent incident took place after Grabovski hit Blake from behind during a scrimmage. But hold on, Grabovskiâ€™s hair is not flaming red, and heâ€™s not trying to send his teammates to eternal damnation (again, as Montreal Canadiens fans would say).
“I played just a little bit hard,” Grabovski said.”(Blake) is the best player on the team. The next time I will go a little bit slower. It’s OK. I’m young.” â€“ Toronto Sun
After he said this, Grabovski was involved in a touching Hallmark Moment when he came up behind his teammate, gave him a hug and said, “See. Everything’s fine.”
So there you have it, Grabovski is not Sean Averyâ€™s inbred son (hey, you never know what the media will cook up these days), and he does have a beating heart.
Pertaining to the blog, Grabovski should stay with the Leafs for one simple reason: Potential. Simply put, Grabovskiâ€™s got moves. His dangles have often made defenders look silly, and his speed through the neutral zone often helps him generate odd-man rushes. His 16 goals and 35 points is also encouraging, as he should finish somewhere between 40-45 points. Let’s be real, how much points were we actually expecting from Grabovski? Ron Wilson said it himself when the season debuted in October that Grabovski should score somewhere between 40-50 points.
In terms of the negatives, Grabovski lacks in the physical department. While heâ€™s decent in his own end, youâ€™ll rarely see him initiate an effective body check (ranked 13th on the team with 44 hits). He also tends to hold on to the puck too long at times, but thatâ€™ll come with experience. Letâ€™s not forget that, while heâ€™s 25, this is his first full season in the NHL. He needs time to adjust to the speed of the NHL, and learn how to make split-second decisions at both ends of the rink.
What made Grabovski such an offensive weapon in the RSL and the AHL was his ability to dangle his way through the opposition, using his vision and lightning-quick speed to set-up and finish plays. In the NHL, he’s not experienced enough (yet) to be hanging the oppositionâ€™s jock straps from the rafters, as defenders often shut him down.
Grabovski may be frustrating to watch now, but wait until he starts to truly adapt to the NHL game. His vision, speed, creativity, dangling and playmaking abilities will make him a solid second-liner for years to come.
Grabovski is a project that requires patience.
Potential to be: 20 goal, 60 point player (or more)
You stay classy, MLHS.