Reports: Capitals indeed sign Grabovski for one year


It appears that the rumors are true: the Washington Capitals signed Mikhail Grabovski to a one-year deal on Thursday, TSN’s Aaron Ward reports. The official confirmation might come a little later, however.

(Puck Daddy’s Dmitry Chesnokov also reports that it’s a one-year deal.)

Bargain shopping?

Belorussian sports outlet Pressball pegs the contract at $3 million, but it’s unclear if that will end up being the final amount.

If that is true, the Capitals got a steal of a deal. The Toronto Maple Leafs bought out Grabovski’s previous deal, which was worth $5.5 million per season, so it’s hard to look at this as anything but a discount.

Yes, it’s easy to imagine a player taking less money on top of the money he’s getting paid not to play for a different team, but Grabovski is younger than other buyout victims at 29. (Example: Vincent Lecavalier is 33 and suffered far more injury problems.)

The Caps could very well be signing a guy who could be a part of the mix if he passes what serves as a cheap “audition.”

Mixed reviews

Toronto fans will likely give a wide variety of assessments regarding Grabovski. “Advanced stats” inclined onlookers tout Grabovski as a versatile player who was used improperly by Randy Carlyle in 2013. Others will bash him for his unkind words for his former coach and will give him less benefit of the doubt in general.

However you might feel about Grabovski, it’s tough to blame the Capitals for taking a relatively low-risk shot at him, especially if the price is $3 million.

Replacing Ribeiro

That’s some nice savings compared to last season’s second-line center, Mike Ribeiro. Perhaps Grabovski won’t average close to a point per game like Ribeiro did last season, yet many would argue that he’ll better help Washington win more puck possession battles and give them a more versatile option. (It’s also possible that Ribeiro wouldn’t be able to maintain that level of play in 2013-14 and beyond.)

He also allows Brooks Laich to settle into a more comfortable third-line center position (depending upon how head coach Adam Oates assesses the line situations).

This signing reminds some of the Capitals grabbing Tomas Vokoun for a cheap deal in 2011. While that didn’t work out as well as some expected, it’s still a potentially shrewd move for Washington.

If nothing else, it should be fun to watch the Capitals visit Toronto on Nov. 23.

Oilers go captain-less, name four alternates instead

1 Comment

Edmonton’s made a fairly significant shift in its leadership group.

The big news is the Oilers won’t have a captain this season, as Andrew Ference will relinquish the “C” he’s worn for the last two years.

Ference will, however, remain part of the group and wear an “A” as part of a four-man alternate captain collective, one that also includes Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

The news of Ference being removed as captain doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The veteran d-man is a well-respected leader, but isn’t expected to be in the lineup every night this season.

The decision to go without a captain, though, is something of a surprise, especially given what new head coach Todd McLellan endured during his final season in San Jose.

The Sharks’ captaincy issue — stripping Joe Thornton, then going with four rotating alternates — was an ongoing problem, something that players, coaches and GM Doug Wilson had to repeatedly address until it blew up in spectacular fashion.

That said, the circumstances in Edmonton are quite different.

It’s believed the club’s intentionally keeping the captaincy vacant, on the assumption that Connor McDavid will evolve into a superstar and, subsequently, the club’s unquestioned leader.

Finally, McLellan noted that with Eberle currently sidelined, a fifth Oiler would be added to the leadership group — veteran forward Matt Hendricks, who will serve as a temporary alternate.

Brandon Sutter didn’t have the greatest preseason

1 Comment

When Brandon Sutter was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks, GM Jim Benning called the 26-year-old a “foundation piece for our group going forward.”

Sutter was quickly signed to a five-year extension worth almost $22 million, more evidence of how highly management thought of the player.

Fast forward to yesterday, when Benning was asked the following question:

“What does it say that you made the trade for Sutter, you called him a ‘foundation’ player, and it took him until the final night of the preseason to find a spot (with the Sedins) on the wing, which isn’t his natural position?”

Here was Benning’s response:

“Well, [head coach Willie Desjardins] wants to try that out, he thinks that’s going to be a good fit. At various times, the Sedins played with wingers with speed, with [Ryan Kesler], who could get in on the forecheck and had a good shot. Sutter brings some of those qualities, too.”

While all that may be true, Sutter was not signed to play the wing; he was brought in to play center, specifically on the second line. He finished the preseason with zero points in five games. And as mentioned, he’ll start the season on the wing, not his natural position.

Meanwhile, youngsters Bo Horvat, 20, and Jared McCann, 19, had outstanding camps and are expected to start the regular season (tonight in Calgary) centering the second and third lines, respectively.

Though Sutter did finish the preseason with 12 shots on goal, up there with the most on the Canucks, it’s fair to say he did not look like a “foundation” player.

“I haven’t seen him play his best,” Desjardins said last week. “I see a guy who’s big and a good skater and who understands the game real well, but just hasn’t got that involved.”

Now, we are only talking about the preseason here. New players often take time to get comfortable. Perhaps playing with the Sedins can provide Sutter with some confidence.

“I know he’ll be there and I totally believe that,” said Desjardins.

But it hasn’t been the best start, and if it wasn’t for the encouraging play of the youngsters, it would be a far bigger story in Vancouver.

Related: Canucks roll the dice on rookies, waive Vey and Corrado