David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail speculates that Burke’s first move this coming offseason will be to find a taker for forward Mikhail Grabovski. Shoalts explains that with Bozak and Kadri likely penciled into the team’s top two centre roles, it is unlikely that Burke will opt for three undersized centres on his roster. Add in a $2.9M pricetag for a primarily offensive-mindedÂ player who scored only 35 points in 59 games, and the writing seems to be on the wall. Shoalts warns fans not to expect a hefty return: likely less than the 2nd round pick Fletcher gave up to acquire him.
Blogger’s Note: I’m in agreement that this is one of more obvious moves for Burke this upcoming summer. Coming off an impressive 48 point “rookie” season, Grabovski pushed the Leafs to the limit with a $2.9M/year deal, which would’ve been appropriate if he could score in the 60 point range. Burke has very little trade ammunition left with which to address his need for one or two top six forwards (assuming he doesn’t move his young assets), so that leaves really only Kaberle and to a much lesser extent maybe Grabovski as players who can fetch anything of value. Unfortunately, Kaberle only has 1 year left on his deal and played poorly down the stretch, while Grabovski had an up-and-down season and could be viewed as slightly overpaid.
However, Grabovski does have an impressive set of hands and wheels, so perhaps in the right situation, there will be a team that believes they can turn him into a viable scoring option. There was some speculation amongst fans that the Leafs’ decision to pair Grabovski up with Kessel during the team’s last 10 or so games was to try and raise his trade value. My best guess? If he’s not packaged with Kaberle, then look for Burke to offer Grabovski up as part of a deal for a cap-strapped team’s pricier forwards: like Patrick Sharp for example.
But for those keeping track: don’t be surprised to see Grabovski break out if he does end up in another uniform. The reason? He won’t have to play at the Air Canada Centre anymore. In ’08-09 he had a 0.55 PPG rate at home and a 0.68 PPG rate on the road. In ’09-’10 this pattern resurfaced to an even more extreme degree: 0.39 PPG rate at home and a 0.86 PPG rate on the road. This is for you Andrew: There’s every possibility he could be a 60-70 point player somewhere else next season.