UPDATED BELOW: Grabovksi and the Capitals have agreed to terms.
The biggest sports outlet in Belarus, Pressball, reports that UFA center Mikhail Grabovski will sign a contract with the Washington Capitals today. A few minutes ago, Igor Eronko of Sports.ru said the deal will be for 1 year and 3 million dollars. Bargain-basement prices for a superb player.
Per ONT report Grabovski will sign 1-year 3 mln contract with #Caps
— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) August 22, 2013
ONT’s initial report has not been substantiated by any stateside sources yet, and Pressball later issued this update, translated by RMNB’s Fedor Fedin:
Mikhail Grabovski’s agent, Gary Greensteen denied the information that the Belarusian forward will sign a contract with Washington today. According to Greensteen, Grabovski’s future will be decided during the weekend or next Monday.
Ex-pat Stephen Whyno spoke with Grabovski’s agent:
FWIW, Mikhail Grabovski’s agent, when I asked about the #Caps report out of Europe said he had no comment.
— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) August 22, 2013
And Sky Kerstein from 106.7 The Fan updated us from the Capitals perspective:
I’m told the #Caps have no plans to make any announcement of any kind today…stay tuned
— Sky Kerstein (@SkyKerstein) August 22, 2013
Grabovski was bought out by the Toronto Maple Leafs this summer— in favor of Tyler Bozak. Grabo’s name has been swimming around in DC for the past few months (both here and at Japers Rink), but it appears he may now be circling the drain.
As translated by our own Fedor Fedin, Pressball’s original story said the following:
ONT channel has reported that Belarusian national team forward Maikhail Grabovski will sign a contract with NHL’s Washington Capitals today
Grabovski is a 29-year-old Belarusian originally drafted by Montreal. Last season he scored 9 goals and 7 assists while performing in a diminished role in Toronto. Following that season, he was given a compliance buyout, which he was…. uh… unhappy about:
A talented forward from the former Soviet Union with a reputation for being tempestuous. Sound familiar?
Robert Vollman’s Hockey Abstract considers Grabo a “possession monster” (he’s in the top-20 strongest possession players since 2008). He’s been consistently undervalued while also driving play– and one who, if the rumors pan out, could be a transformative presence on the Capitals’ second line.
That 2C spot, of course, has already been promised to Brooks Laich by General Manager George McPhee (who, we’ve heard, likes this team). We compared Laich, Grabo, and other comparable centers a few months back, reaching conclusions favorable to Grabovski. On a team whose possession (again: the single best predictor of future success) has been waning the past few years, Grabo could be the proverbial shot in the arm. It might not change the Caps from a marginal playoff team to a true Cup contender, but it would be an instant and dramatic improvement that also allows GMGM to make roster changes as needed.
If Grabovski does sign in Washington, the Caps would have three legitimate centers: Backstrom, Grabovski, and Laich– with Perreault also in the depth chart and Evgeny Kuznetsov waiting on deck for springtime. If Grabovski signs elsewhere, the Capitals will have missed out on a grand opportunity.
We’ll keep you posted. Do your thing, GMGM!
UPDATE (3:10PM): Nick Kypreos confirms the Caps have extended an offer and are awaiting confirmation.
Told #Capitals still waiting for confirmation that Grabovski has accepted their offer but all is pointing in that direction.
— Nick Kypreos (@RealKyper) August 22, 2013
UPDATE (7:45PM): Puck Daddy’s Dmitry Chesnokov has done his due-diligence as well.
And now here are people dancing: FINAL UPDATE (9:15PM): Aaron Ward of TSN confirms it. That settles it. George McPhee rules.
Mikhail Grabovski and the Washington Capitals have come to terms on a 1 year deal. #TSN
— Aaron Ward (@aaronward_nhl) August 23, 2013
Additional reporting by Ian Oland and Fedor Fedin.
This story has been updated to reflect new consensus spelling of Grabovski’s nickname: One B.