Monday, March 29, 2010
What will the Leafs do with Grabovski?
The other night I was enjoying the Leafs game as most fans I'm sure have since the Olympics and a though crossed my mind, what will the Maple Leafs do with Mikhail Grabovski? Tyler Bozak has looked terrific between Phil Kessel and Nikolai Kulemin, a line I like to reference to as the B2K line and how many fans out there know that the kid leads all NHL rookies who have played in at least 20 games this season in points per game.
Thats right more the Tavares, Duchene and Bergfors and currently sits in 12th place in rookie scoring two points from moving into 9th. These kind of impressive statistics should all but guarantee Bozak a spot in the middle next season. Then you have the Leafs top prospect Nazem Kadri the 93 point player who finished fourth in scoring in the OHL and currently has 14 points in 5 playoff games to lead the league in playoff scoring at the moment.
Kadri is also a center and it is exciting to think of having a Kadri-Bozak, one two punch down the middle for many years but this looks to leave the Grabovski as the odd man out. Grabovski the 26 year old Belarusian does not fit the Brian Burke mold of what his bottom six forwards should look like as the gifted center is on and off with his work ethic and even though he does seem to be popular with teammates tends to have a few too many emotional outbursts whether on the ice as was seen in Montreal or at practice as seen by his encounters with Jason Blake.
Grabovski at the moment is the second highest paid Leafs forward with a cap hit of $2.9 million and is signed for another two seasons and with a career total of 90 NHL points would not be a player Burke would have an easy time getting rid of. This leaves coach Ron Wilson with a bit of a dilema on his depth chart, do you start Grabovski next season in the top two center spots and ease Kadri into the role or does he place Grabovski on the third line with a couple of muckers as his wingers?
This second option would be a waste of Grabovski's talent and would sure hinder the players development in the NHL. The other option that makes sense ( and no I'm not going to say a buy out) is to move Grabovski to the wing on a line that has Kadri centering him, you would now have two gifted players playing together, although a bit on the smallish side as Kadri is 6 feet and Grabo is 5'11 the Leafs could always place a bigger winger on the right side, someone from the current roster or a yet to be acquired player.
The Leafs have a bit of a dilema next season with their top two centers, a dilema that will take some creative thinking to solve but a dilema that I dont mind the team having.