Grabovski waiting on futures of McPhee, Oates

Grabovski waiting on futures of McPhee, Oates
April 15, 2014, 1:15 pm
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(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Include center Mikhail Grabovski among the members of the Capitals organization with an uncertain future.

Destined to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, Grabovski and his family would like to put roots down in Washington, but not until the futures of general manager George McPhee and Adam Oates are determined.

“We need to know what’s going on here and what’s going to be here,” Grabovski said Tuesday. “So we’re in a position to hold and wait and we’ll see what’s going to happen in the next month.”

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Grabovski, who signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the Capitals last summer, is one of three unrestricted free agents on the Caps’ roster. The others – Dustin Penner [$2 million] and Jaroslav Halak [$3.75 million] -- are unlikely to return.

Grabovski’s agent, Gary Greenstin, was seen milling around Verizon Center and Kettler Capitals Iceplex in recent weeks, apparently trying to mine a deal for his 30-year-old client from McPhee.

“Any years makes me happy,” Grabovski said. “Any money makes me happy. Any team makes me happy. It doesn’t matter how long for me, I just want to find what’s best for my family and for me.

“Right now that’s nowhere because I don’t know what’s here. Here is right for me, but I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next month.”

McPhee and Oates are in limbo as they wait for Caps owner Ted Leonsis to determine their fate. Grabovski said Oates was a refreshing change from Randy Carlyle, who is under the interrogation lamp in Toronto following the Maple Leafs’ late-season collapse.

“I like playing for Adam Oates,” Grabovski said. “He’s a completely different coach than I had before. He’s nice to players and spends time with players.

“You understand what he wants. Sometimes you don’t need to scream at people. He puts in your head what you need to do on the ice. He explains everything.

“You just need to come and work hard, not have somebody stand behind you and punch you in the back and say, ‘Let’s go, let’s go.’

‘”You just need to understand Adam Oates’ system. He’s not a guy who’s going to yell and scream at you.”

A left ankle injury limited Grabovski to 13 goals and 22 assists in 58 games, which projects to 18 goals and 31 assists over a full 82 games. Is that worth $5 million a season on the open market?

Grabovski and his wife, Kate, have two children, 3-year-old daughter Leeliah and 2-year-old son, Jaeger. They still have a home in Toronto, but Grabovski said they’d like to make their home here.

“For me, it’s easy,” Grabovski said. “I come in the dressing room and I have friends right away. But for her she needs to know people, find her way around. I feel very comfortable here.”

Grabovski said he’ll spend the next few weeks spending time with his family, then return to his hometown of Minsk, Belarus, where he’ll play for his host country in the 2014 IIHF World Hockey Championships beginning May 9.

Grabovski said he plans to go to Belarus on Friday and practice with his national team on April 20, then travel for Denmark for exhibition games on April 23 and 26 before preparing for the world tournament, where he’s expected to face Capitals teammates Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov [Russia], Troy Brouwer and Joel Ward [Canada], Nicklas Backstrom [Sweden] and Jaro Halak [Slovak].

“For me the season is not over,” he said. “Right now it’s time to relax and spend time with my family again. I’m excited about playing in front of my family and friends. I can’t imagine.”