For the second straight year, the Capitals have seen their No.2 center sign a four-year deal with another team during the first week of free agency.
Last year it was Mike Ribeiro, fresh off an impressive 2012-13 season with the Capitals, signing a four-year, $22.5 million deal with the Coyotes. This year, it’s Mikhail Grabovski, coming off a strong 2013-14 campaign in Washington, signing a four-year, $20 million deal with the New York Islanders.
Grabovski signed with the Islanders Wednesday along with his former Toronto Maple Leafs teammate, Nikolai Kulemin. Kulemin’s deal is also for four years and will pay him $16.75 million. Both Grabovski and Kulemin are represented by agent Gary Greenstin.
Grabovski, 30, agreed to a one-year $3 million deal with the Capitals last August after the Maple Leafs bought out the final four years of a five-year $27.5 million deal he signed with Toronto in 2012.
In his one season with the Caps, Grabovski had 13 goals and 35 points in 58 games, but also missed 22 of 23 games from Jan.25-March 30 with an ankle injury.
Grabovski, who had career-highs of 29 goals and 58 points in 81 games with Toronto in 2010-11, is expected to be the Islanders’ No.2 center behind captain John Tavares.
Kulemin had career-highs across the board that same season in Toronto with 30 goals and 57 points in 82 games. Grabovski and Kulemin were often linemates with the Maple Leafs and the duo seems likely to play together in New York as well.
Kulemin spent his entire NHL tenure in Toronto he recorded 84 goals and 195 points in 421 career games.
Already this offseason, the Islanders have signed goalies Jaroslav Halak (four years, $18 million) and Chad Johnson (two years, $2.6 million), defenseman T.J. Brennan (one year, $650,000) and former Calder Trophy nominee Cory Conacher (one year, $600,000).
FORMER CAPS PROSPECTS FIND NEW HOMES:
Former Capitals prospects Chris Bourque and Andrew Gordon have both found new homes, with Bourque signing a two-way deal with the Rangers and Gordon doing the same with the Flyers.
Bourque, 28, spent last season in Europe playing in the Kontinental Hockey League and the Swiss National League. Washington’s second-round pick (33rd overall) in the 2004 NHL Draft, Bourque has 142 goals in 437 career AHL games, but has scored just twice in 51 career NHL games.
Both Bourque and Gordon won back-to-back Calder Cup championships with the AHL’s Hershey Bears in 2009 and 2010.
Gordon spent last season in the Winnipeg Jets organization and like Bourque, has established himself as an AHL All-Star with limited NHL success. Gordon has recorded 126 goals and 267 points in 350 career AHL games, but just three goals and seven points in 55 career NHL games.