Toronto Maple Leafs v Pittsburgh Penguins

Mikhail Grabovski’s value is tough to define


The New York Islanders took underrated forward Frans Nielsen off the unrestricted free agent market today, so it only makes sense that a somewhat similar* player was the topic of discussion elsewhere.

It’s strange to define a Toronto Maple Leafs center as underexposed, but if any player fits that description, it’s Mikhail Grabovski. The Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle believes that the versatile Russian pivot’s value might be tough to determine as contract talks loom.

Fellow Leafs center Tyler Bozak gave Grabovski rave reviews.

“I don’t think I can do half the stuff he does,” Bozak said. “Those Russian guys have some pretty nice tricks up their sleeves. He’s got some moves, and he’s got a lot of patience. It’s just fun to watch guys like that.”

Grabovski has been a productive producer even though he hasn’t enjoyed the luxury of lining up with prolific wingers Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul. Mirtle points out that he’s tied for eighth among centers when it comes to scoring goals with 47 in 128 games, placing him ahead of high-wattage stars such as Eric Staal and Anze Kopitar.

The word is that the best comparables for Grabovski are Tomas Plekanec ($5 million cap hit) and Patrice Bergeron (also $5 million).

Such a price tag might be tough for Brian Burke and the Leafs to stomach, but could he be worth it? If not, what kind of deal would be appropriate? Share your thoughts in the comments.

* – Grabovski is far more explosive, mind you, but both seem to slip under the radar to some extent.

Leafs prospects Nylander and Kapanen heading to AHL

William Nylander
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The Toronto Maple Leafs trimmed their training camp roster by 16 players on Sunday.

Two of the Leafs’ top prospects, William Nylander and Kasperi Kapanen, are heading to the the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.

For the full list of cuts, click here.

Nylander was Toronto’s first round pick, eighth overall, in 2014.

The 19-year-old scored an impressive 14 goals and 32 points in 37 games with the Marlies in 2014-15.

Kapenen, 19, was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Phil Kessel trade.

He had one goal and one assist in a brief four game stint with Pittsburgh’s farm team last season.

The rebuilding Maple Leafs have no issue being patient with their top young prospects. Both players could make their NHL debut at some point this season, but they may have to wait a little while longer before they become regulars at the next level.

The Leafs now have 24 players on their training camp roster. They have until Tuesday to put the finishing touches on their lineup. Toronto needs to cut at least one more player.

Torres suspended pending hearing

Raffi Torres, Cory Schneider
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According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Raffi Torres has been suspended pending his disciplinary hearing with the league for his hit on Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

Torres was assessed a match penalty for targeting Silfverberg’s head on Saturday night.

The 33-year-old missed all of last season with a knee injury, and it looks like the start of his regular season will be delayed once again.

Head coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have come back into the game, but he was held out for precautionary reasons.

Ducks center Ryan Kesler didn’t hide his feelings after the contest.

“(Torres) is the same player every year,” Kesler told reporters. “He needs to learn how to hit. That has no part in our game anymore.”