Over the summer, general manager George McPhee and head coach Adam Oates worked together to land arguably the most talented player on the free-agent market, Mikhail Grabovski.
Grabo, who was bought out by the Toronto Maple Leafs because they don’t understand teh corsis, signed a short, cap-friendly deal with Washington: one year for three million dollars. He did so, presumably, to maximize his value as a free agent heading into the 2014-15 season.
We knew all that coming in. Let me repeat: we knew this already. But, like finding a lost puppy in the woods and feeding him, it’s now hard to think of parting company from him. We want to keep Grabo forever and ever and dress him up in cute outfits.
Washington Capitals’ senior writer Mike Vogel broached the whole re-signing thing to Grabovski on Sunday. The Belarusian’s answer was telling.
How has your change and adaption been to Washington on and off the ice? And are you happy enough in Washington to stay past this season?
That’s a good question. Yeah. I like everything. I like it here. A lot of funny guys in the shower right now laughing at me. I enjoy… I hope I can make this team better and give something from me to this team then we fight for playoff.
I know it’s only been a half a season, but do you feel on the ice like your role is more important here. Are you happier with your situation and your role here than you were last year in Toronto?
Yeah for sure, 100 percent, because I feel more comfortable play games. It’s much easy to play when people trust in you and support you. So for me I just try to work hard every night and feel better about that and a little bit more relaxed and just enjoy to play.
Is it just me or does Grabovski dodge the question altogether? I don’t blame him one bit. Uh, something, something. Let’s make the playoffs.
After being promised by the coaching staff an opportunity to showcase his offensive talent, Grabovski has flourished in D.C. while playing on the second and third lines. In his first game as a Capital, he scored a hat trick. He is currently the team’s third leading scorer, averaging nearly a point per game (30 points in 37 games).
Grabovski is also currently the fourth-leading scorer among unrestricted free agents heading into the 2014-15 season and at 29-years-old, could be considered the best value for a team looking for a long-term solution at center.
If Grabovski wants to cash in, this summer is the time to do so. After being bought out and humiliated by the Leafs, he has positioned himself perfectly for another big pay day.
You would have to think that if Grabovski reaches the free-agent market, he could demand a five-year deal or longer making $5 million-plus per season.
With Evgeny Kuznetsov targeted to make his NHL debut either later this season or next, that creates a conundrum for Caps management. Do you give big money and a long term to a talented player beginning to leave his prime? Or do you depend on younger players like Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Tom Wilson to fill the void in the top six?
It’s a big decision and one that will impact the team for years to come. And judging by this interview, it appears the Caps are at the very least, interested in an extension.
P.S. – Grabo needs a haircut.