If you ask me, the Toronto Maple Leafs would be foolish to ship their underrated – and most talented – center out of town. Still, that rumor is picking up steam as TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that the team has an offer “on the table” for Mikhail Grabovski.
The word is that the hypothetical deal would net the Buds a second-round pick and some sort of prospect, although the specific team in question remains a mystery.
One possible catalyst for GM Brian Burke’s flirtation with a move is that Grabovski is a pending free agent who some believe would fetch as much as $5 million per year. If the two sides are far apart on his asking price, shipping him out of town makes a bit more sense.
It’s weird to say this in hockey-saturated Toronto, but Grabovski might be a rare Leafs forward whose value slips under the radar.
The versatile Belarussian’s five-game scoreless slump hurts his numbers a bit, but he’s still been nicely productive with 39 points in 52 games. He’s also decent in other areas of the ice and has shown the occasional mean streak, so he can do a little of everything. Grabovski has contributed solid-to-great offense even though he’s lining up with lesser wingers such as Clarke MacArthur and Nikolai Kulemin rather than stars Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul. (Kulemin has struggled mightily this season, too.)
Burke knows how to play the media, so perhaps he’s dipping his toe in the water to see if he can get a little more for Grabovski. It’s hard to imagine the team parting ways with him in the middle of what could be the Leafs’ first post-lockout playoff run, but you never know with Burke.
It would be rather amusing – Alanis Morissette might even call it ironic – if that potential Grabs trade does go through, though. After all, Grabovski joined the Maple Leafs in exchange for a second-round pick and a prospect in 2008.
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”
Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).
Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.
Read more about his rise here.
In his fifth NHL game, intriguing Washington Capitals prospect Jakub Vrana scored his first NHL goal (and point).
Let’s be honest, though; Evgeny Kuznetsov deserves plenty of the credit, as he sent a fantastic pass for Vrana’s tap-in tally.
See it for yourself:
Even if that was mostly Kuznetsov, Vrana has been getting his chances so far.
He generated four shots on goal in two separate occasions so far in his four games of NHL action, so maybe he was due for a chance like this.
Considering he’s just 20 years old, the Capitals could get used to Kuznetsov to Vrana.
Update: The Capitals won 4-1, and Vrana’s first goal wasn’t the only noteworthy “first.” After piling on shots, John Carlson finally scored his first goal of the season:
No one’s going to confuse Dmitry Kulikov with Jack Eichel, but the Buffalo Sabres are likely happy to have him back after a long absence, too.
The Sabres have been on an upward trend lately (5-2-2 in their last nine games), and now they get a key defenseman back against the Washington Capitals on Friday night.
Kulikov last played on Nov. 9 and hasn’t recorded a point in 12 games, making for a tough start to his stint with the Sabres. Maybe he’ll begin to get a little more traction with his new team tonight?
He’s far from the only returning Buffalo player, either, as Josh Gorges and Nicolas Deslauriers are also back in the mix. Kulikov is slated to be on the Sabres’ second pairing with Cody Franson.
Buffalo sent Brendan Guhle to the AHL to make room for these tweaks.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will be without captain Nick Foligno because of an illness on Friday, opening up an opportunity for interesting prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand.
The team tweeted out his linemates as Matt Calvert and Lukas Sedlak as a solid fourth line facing the Detroit Red Wings.
He failed to generate much (zero points, two shots on goal) in three games so far with Columbus this season, receiving about 25 minutes of ice time over that span.
With eight goals and 12 points in 19 AHL games so far in 2016-17, there’s the thought that he could eventually make the next step to becoming a decent contributor for the Blue Jackets.
Perhaps this will constitute his first real step in that direction?
Apparently this is a pretty abrupt situation for the 21-year-old: