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.
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.”
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.
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.