Best friends Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin dreamed about playing together again, and now they’ll get that chance with the New York Islanders.
Grabovski and Kulemin have each signed with the Isles, per TSN, the former getting $20 million over four years, the latter $16.75 million over four years.
After Paul Stastny, Grabovski was arguably the most highly sought-after center in free agency. The 30-year-old had 13 goals and 22 assists for Washington last season. His best campaign was 2010-11, when he had 29 goals and 29 assists for the Maple Leafs. But Toronto bought him out last summer.
The 2010-11 season was also Kulemin’s high-water mark, as the winger scored 30 goals for the Leafs. But his production has fallen dramatically since then, with just 23 goals in 188 games from 2011-12 to 2013-14.
With the Islanders, Grabovski should start as the second-line center behind John Tavares. Kulemin could play with either Grabovski or Tavares.
On paper, the Isles have no shortage of potential scoring up front. They should also be more stable in goal with Jaroslav Halak and Chad Johnson. The blue line remains a question mark.