Mikhail Grabovski brushes aside trade speculation
That is a lot of time, and there are a lot of seats in the dressing room. On Monday, as the team returned from the all-star break, the hottest seat belonged to Mikhail Grabovski, the centre who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
“You know, I think it’s more about you guys — not me,” he said of speculation he might become a bargaining chip in the trade market. “I think more about hockey than about my future. I know if I play well, I can stay with the same team.”
So he would like to stay in Toronto?
“Yeah, it’s my home right now, you know?” he said. “We’ll see. If they want me here, I appreciate it. But my job is to work hard and give my best on the ice.”
Grabovski is earning US$3.1-million with the Leafs this season, and will almost certainly earn a raise with his next contract. The Leafs risk losing him for nothing in return if they cannot sign a new deal or trade him before the deadline.
“We’ve already had one [negotiating] session,” Burke said last week. “We haven’t decided yet if we’re going to try again, or just wait to see if he moves at the deadline. I have kept players at the deadline before who were unrestricted — [defenceman] Ruslan Salei is an example — so I’m not committed to trading Grabovski if he doesn’t sign.”
The 27-year-old has 32 points in 43 games, and is the engine of the team’s second line, a unit that actually served as Toronto’s best threat last season. Playing between MacArthur and winger Nikolai Kulemin, Grabovski has the ability to dominate possession and rarely makes serious mistakes in his own end.
He is also resilient, which might help him deal with the speculation.