We know George McPhee’s public statements. We know he believes that Brooks Laich can handle the second-line center role for the Capitals next season.
But until Mikhail Grabovski, the former Toronto Maple Leafs center, actually signs somewhere, he will continue to be linked to Washington whether the evidence is there the Caps want him or not.
Laich is a solid player and you can argue that he fits the role despite not being a traditional playmaking center. Chicago survived last year without a true playmaker in that role, after all. You can’t have everything.
But it’s also clear that adding Grabovski and pushing Laich back to wing makes the Caps a deeper team. Or, you could make Laich the third-line center and shift Mathieu Perreault. Either way, more good players should equal a better shot at a return trip to the Stanley Cup playoffs.
But Grabovski still lingers on the open market six weeks after Toronto bought out his contract of $5.5 million. If Grabovski hoped to double dip with his old contract and new, it seems like that might not happen, according to this report from Yahoo!’s Puck Daddy blog.
With the salary cap dropping to $64.3 million this season, dollars and roster spots are dwindling and Grabovski will take a one-year contract to rebuild his value with team, according to his agent, who also said one team “seems to be a fit.”
Who that is? There are obvious teams that still need top-six centers, including Anaheim, Florida, Nashville and Calgary. But is Grabovski willing to play for a non-contender? And even for solid playoff teams like the Ducks there may not be room, especially if veteran winger Teemu Selanne returns instead of retiring.
That doesn’t mean the Caps are interested in Grabovski at any price. Remember, once restricted free agent Marcus Johansson signs there may be as little as $3 million left over for Grabovski. Is that price enough to pique McPhee’s interest? Stay tuned.