Former Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski remains an unsigned free agent, but according to a Belarusian television station ONT, the 29-year-old is close to signing a one-year $3 million deal with the Capitals.
Rogers Sportsnet in Canada is reporting that the Capitals are waiting on confirmation that Grabovski has accepted their offer.
Grabovski spent the past five years with the Maple Leafs before being bought out in July, but he could be an ideal fit for a Capitals team that again finds itself in need of a second line center. Since 2009, the revolving door of No.2 centermen has included Brendan Morrison, Eric Belanger, Tomas Fleischmann, Jason Arnott, Marcus Johansson, Brooks Laich and Mike Ribeiro.
While George McPhee said in July that the Capitals were comfortable shifting Laich back to the middle (as they did in 2011-12), Grabovski would offer the Capitals with more depth and another option on the power play.
Grabovski had three 20-goal campaigns in Toronto (including a career-high 29 goals in 2010-11), but found himself in coach Randy Carlyle’s doghouse last season. Grabovski played limited minutes on Toronto’s third and fourth lines last season and finished the year with nine goals and 16 points in 48 games. Less than a week after having the final four years of his contract bought out, the 29-year-old took shots at Carlyle.
"I play in the [expletive] Russian KHL [during the lockout], I make lots of [expletive] points and what's going to happen? He make me [expletive] play on the fourth line and he put me in the playoffs on the fourth line and third line again," Grabovski told TSN 1050 in July. "Yeah, I don't score goals. I need to work more about that. I know that. But if you feel support from your coach [you'll find success]. I don't feel any support from this [expletive] idiot."
If Grabovski were to join the Capitals, the second line center position seems like a logical fit. Thursday in Toronto, with a deal not yet confirmed, a number of Capitals shared their thoughts with Rogers Sportsnet on the possibility of adding Grabovski to the lineup.
“That’d be awesome. I think Washington needs a guy like that. I grew up watching him in Toronto. He’s a really special player who can definitely put the puck in the net,” Tom Wilson told Rogers Sportsnet. “I’m excited to watch him.”
Added Toronto native Joel Ward: “Being this is my hometown, I tend to watch the Leafs a little bit. He’s a great player... I’ve seen him play a few times, and he works extremely hard, goes into some good areas, and he’s got the skill-set to score big goals. I’d love to welcome him to the team and hopefully he’ll get us to the next level.”