Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis has offered a fairly straight forward assessment of Mikhail Grabovski’s play from last season, and a challenge for the skilled 29-year-old forward.
Grabovski, who, according to Capgeek.com, has four years remaining on his contract at a $5.5 million annual cap hit.
But last season, his offensive production hit a decline. He had only 16 points in 48 games played for the Leafs in 2013 – and only two assists in seven playoff games.
That’s down from his 2011-12 campaign, when he showed balance between scoring and set-up man, with 23 goals and 51 points in 74 games. The season before that: 58 points in 81 games.
But after his struggles this past season, and with the amount of money he earns in this cap era following the new collective bargaining agreement, the Leafs are looking for more from Grabovski.
“(Grabovski) didn’t have the best year he’s ever had, there’s no secret about that. He didn’t have a very good season and there’s a lot of reasons for that. His health was part of it,” said Nonis, as per the Globe and Mail.
“But I think in the postseason he was very good. He competed. He looked more like his old self. And he’s going to have to get ready this offseason and get back and try to challenge for the minutes that he was expecting.”
Nonis also discussed a variety of roster issues as it pertains to freeing up cap space.
The Leafs, having acquired center Dave Bolland from the Chicago Blackhawks over the weekend, are still trying to re-sign pending unrestricted free agent Tyler Bozak.
Roberto Luongo was on his game in the first period versus the Boston Bruins on Monday.
The Florida Panthers goalie was called upon to make 14 saves in the opening 20 minutes, and none better than this glove stop on Ryan Spooner.
Spooner appeared to have the wide open net on a cross-ice pass, but Luongo threw up the glove in spectacular fashion to deny the Bruins forward less than three minutes into the game.
The Philadelphia Flyers have had their share of good news lately. They’ve won five in a row and goalie Steve Mason has been solid in that span, being named on Monday the NHL’s first star for the week.
But it hasn’t all been positive.
Forward Matt Read is out of the lineup for at least four weeks with an upper-body injury, the Flyers announced Monday. The injury occurred during Sunday’s game against the Nashville Predators.
It’s been reported the injury is an oblique muscle pull.
With Read out, the Flyers have recalled Taylor Leier from the American Hockey League.
Leier has been very productive in the minors. In 22 games this season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, he has six goals and 20 points.
The topic of a possible Wild Card play-in game being added to the NHL’s playoff format isn’t new.
General managers around the league have talked about it before. The idea recently seemed to gain traction with at least the small majority, too.
Hockey insider Bob McKenzie once polled all 30 GMs to get a sense of how many would be in favor of such a thing — and 16 of those GMs were. You can count Ken Holland with the Detroit Red Wings as someone who would like to see a Wild Card play-in game.
Holland is also a baseball fan and likes the way MLB has created must-watch play-in games. In baseball, there are three division winners in each league. Those three teams qualify for the division round of the postseason. Two wild-card teams in each league square off in a one-game play-in to decide the fourth divisional qualifier on each side.
“I’m all for an extra team in each conference qualifying for the playoffs and having a wild- card play-in game,” said Holland. “It would add excitement down the stretch for many more teams fighting for the additional wild-card spot and two extra teams would be involved in the playoffs. Those play-in games would be dramatic.”
Of course, the interesting thing about that is the Red Wings have a streak of 25 consecutive playoff appearances on the line.
But their best days — when Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg led them to a Stanley Cup in 2008 and the final the following year — are long behind them. The organization has undergone substantial change with Zetterberg getting older, the loss of Datsyuk to the KHL and Mike Babcock joining the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Red Wings could be in real danger of missing the post-season under its current format in 2017.
Detroit is two points out of the second Wild Card spot in the East, with New Jersey and Boston still ahead of them, although not currently in a playoff spot.
Three forwards — Brock Boeser, Alex DeBrincat, and Colin White — and two defensemen — Chad Krys and Charlie McAvoy — make up the five returnees that were named today to the preliminary roster for the 2017 U.S. National Junior Team.
Other recognizable names include first-round draft picks Luke Kunin, Clayton Keller, Logan Brown, Kieffer Bellows, Jack Roslovic, and Tage Thompson.
“This is a talented, versatile group of players that has found success across all levels of hockey,” said general manager Jim Johannson from USA Hockey. “There is depth at every position, and while we still have some difficult decisions to make, we feel each of these players can fit the style of hockey Coach Motzko (U.S. head coach Bob Motzko) first implemented at our National Junior Evaluation Camp last August.”
Click here for the full preliminary roster. D-man Jack Ahcan (St. Cloud State) and goalie Jake Oettinger (BU) are the only ones who have yet to be drafted. Oettinger doesn’t turn 18 until later this month.
The players will attend training camp Dec. 16-20 in Buffalo, then an additional camp in Oshawa, Ontario, from Dec. 20-24.
Of the 27 camp invitees (three goalies, eight d-men, and 16 forwards), only 23 will make the cut.
USA won bronze at the 2016 World Juniors in Finland.
Related: Barzal, Strome, Patrick among invitees to Canada’s World Juniors camp