Mikhail Grabovski

Leafs to use compliance buyout on Grabovski


In a move that caught a lot of people by surprise, the Toronto Maple Leafs have decided to use their second and final compliance buyout on center Mikhail Grabovski.

Grabovski had four years remaining on his five-year contract, with a cap hit of $5.5 million. The buyout will cost the Leafs $14.3 million over eight years.

“I would like to thank Mikhail for his contributions with the Leafs over the past five seasons,” said Toronto general manager Dave Nonis in a release. “This was not an easy decision to make as Mikhail made numerous contributions to our hockey club. This is a roster move that will give us salary cap flexibility moving forward.”

The buyout comes after Grabovski suffered through a frustrating season offensively, scoring just nine times with seven assists in 48 games. In 2010-11, he had a career-high 29 goals. In 2011-12, he scored 23 times.

One possible explanation for the 29-year-old’s fall in production is that he was used in more of a defensive role in 2013, as the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle explains.

Whatever the rationale for cutting ties with Grabovski, the move does open up a significant amount of cap space for Nonis, who still has to negotiate deals with restricted free agents like Jonathan Bernier, Nazem Kadri, Carl Gunnarsson, and Cody Franson.

It could also mean the return of center Tyler Bozak, an unrestricted free agent, and/or the pursuit of UFAs like David Clarkson or Stephen Weiss.

As for Grabovski, with a dearth of quality centers on the market, he’ll receive no shortage of attention in free agency.


Leafs buy out Mike Komisarek’s contract

Leafs looking for Dave Bolland to play expanded role

Friday’s loss serves as ‘harsh lesson’ for Blue Jackets

Jasper Fast, Nick Foligno, Henrik Lundqvist
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Late in the third period of Friday’s game against the New York Rangers, things were looking good for Columbus.

Brandon Saad, who the team acquired from Chicago this off-season, scored his first goal of the season to give his team a 2-1 lead with under four minutes remaining in the contest.

Unfortunately for the Jackets, that’s as good as it would get.

The Rangers responded with three unanswered goals from Oscar Lindberg, Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello to spoil Columbus’ home opener.

“When something like that happens at the end, I think we’re gonna be a better team because of it,” defenseman Ryan Murray told reporters after the game. “It’s a harsh lesson, but it’s a good one.

Luckily for Columbus, they won’t have to wait very long to try and get their revenge.

The Blue Jackets and Rangers will finish off their home-and-home series at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, which might not be such a bad thing for Columbus.

“It’s good that we get another chance tomorrow,” Saad said after Friday’s game. “We were high on emotions (after the go-ahead goal) and they scored and it took the wind out of our sails, but we have to keep playing. We have to learn to keep doing our thing, regardless of the score.”



Kings GM says Mike Richards went into ‘a destructive spiral’

Mike Richards

The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.

Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.

Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.

“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”

Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:

  • He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
  • Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
  • The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.

… Yeah.

Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.

Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?