Pittsburgh Penguins v Toronto Maple Leafs

Leafs Grabovski will have to ‘challenge’ for his ice time


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.


After PTO, Upshall signs one-year deal with Blues

Florida Panthers v Ottawa Senators
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Scottie Upshall has parlayed his training camp tryout into a contract with St. Louis.

On Monday, the Blues agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with the veteran forward, worth $700,000 at the NHL level. The deal comes after Upshall spent all of training camp and the preseason impressing the Blues his speed and skating ability, no small feat for a 31-year-old veteran with over 500 NHL games on his odometer.

But where Upshall fits in the Blues lineup — and within the organization — remains to be seen.

The club has plenty of depth up front and Upshall isn’t coming off a terrific campaign, having scored just eight goals and 15 points in 63 games with Florida last season. That said, he showed enough to be just one of a handful of veterans on PTOs to score a contract.

Panthers’ Crouse is going back to junior

2015 NHL Draft - Round One
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Lawson Crouse is going back to junior. The big 18-year-old winger confirmed it today on Twitter.

Crouse was drafted 11th overall in June by the Florida Panthers. Despite the club’s belief that Crouse could make “an immediate impact” on the roster, he finished the preseason with just two shots and one assist in three games.

Crouse will return to the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, with whom he’ll look to improve on his modest point totals from last season.

“I don’t think there’s any pressure on the kid,” coach Gerard Gallant said last week. “If he doesn’t make the team this year he goes back to junior … and will have a lot of success.”