32-Year-Old Center – New York Islanders
Mikhail Grabovski Contract Information:
Signed a four-year, $20 million contract with the Islanders in July 2014.
Grabovski (concussion) failed his physical and is officially listed as an injured non-roster player.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Though his first season with the Islanders was plagued by injury, leading to lower numbers than he mightíve hoped, Grabovski is still a talented two-way player who has the potential to put up points in a depth role. A pair of concussions -- a sad trend that's followed him around throughout his career -- limited Grabovski to just 51 games, during which he produced nine goals and 10 assists. Though he wonít fill up the stat sheet as a scorer, Grabovskiís biggest impact is on those around him, with Josh Bailey and Nikolay Kulemin looking like the main beneficiaries of the centerís strong possession play and willingness to backtrack on defense. If he can stay healthy, then heís got late-round fantasy potential, but any injury he might suffer in training camp would put a hit on his already shaky stock.
The Isles made a splash on the second day of free agency, inking Grabovski signed a five-year, $20 million contract and further strengthening the teamís center corps. While heís slated to center the teamís second line, this contract still seems to be a pretty steep price to pay for a player who has only scored 22 goals over the past two seasons. It would appear that the Islanders are banking on Grabovski reestablishing a connection with former Toronto teammate and projected linemate Nikoali Kulemin, who also signed with the Islanders in the summer. Grabovski's best season to date came in 2010-11 when he was primarily flanked by Kulemin, but the decline from both players since that time might render their familiarity moot. Given their significant investment in the duo this offseason, the Islanders are surely hoping that isnít the case.
What's the old saying? One man's garbage is another man's treasure? Well, Grabo has a chance to resurrect his career in the U.S. Capital after being jettisoned by the Leafs the day before his wedding was to happen. Sure, he was mad and he let just about everyone in Toronto know all about it. But he has mellowed now that he's wearing the star-studded reds of the Caps. He'll bring stability to the second line, but don't expect him to replace the offensive output of the departed Mike Ribeiro. Grabo will be lucky to hit 60 points, but will give coach Adam Oates a solid, two-way game. He's down the list of centermen, but could be a sneaky contributor if your league has no position qualifications.
Phil Kessel may be the team's hottest scorer, but Grabo is arguably the team's most valuable. His game has matured and he has started to even out his hots and colds Ö streaks, that is. He's the perfect second-line center and has great chemistry with regular linemates Nikolai Kulemin and Clarke MacArthur. Expect a strong 55-60 point season along with his trademark "edge," but don't expect him to ascend to the top line. He needs the puck; so does Phil Kessel. And that will keep the two of them apart.
Can Grabo match his heroics of last season? Maybe, maybe not. But that doesnít mean there isnít value in this feisty second-line pivot, particularly in deep leagues with lots of categories. The birth of his first child last season seemed to provide him with some perspective and maturity, and he suddenly found his own zone. Almost everyone was surprised that his line was the teamís best in plus-minus last year. So while his offense might drop a tad now that the Leafs have a ďbetterĒ first line, Graboís game will continue to mature. And that means multi-category output including PIMs, plus-minus, shots and more. Heíll provide sneaky value on draft day.
Grabovski is a riddle wrapped in an enigma. He's an excellent skater and offensive-minded, and he's fearless despite his small size. But he seriously overhandles the puck and gets far too fancy, particularly when the simple play would help his team keep the puck. He had a horrid 2009-10 and if he can deliver 55 points this season, he'll be worth his salary ($2.75 million). But the Leafs will let hot prospect Nazem Kadri try to earn the job as second-line center, and that means Grabovski will slide down the depth chart. He has to pick up his game to save his spot in the top-six, but even if he does, his fantasy value will be slim in all but the deepest of leagues. Center is far too deep to draft a "maybe" 55-point player.
Heís super streaky, but Grabovski is on our radar this year any way. Heís the post facto first-line center and he should build on his 48 points (third highest in rookie scoring last year, by the way). A mid-50 point tally is definitely possible. Granted, a center with that kind of offense wonít be a must-roll in a lot of formats. But itís his potential for 100 PIMs that has us intrigued. If he could manage 60 points AND 100 PIMs, heíd be on a pretty short (and impressive) list.
Heís tiny but awfully talented. And that could put this 24-year-old on track to win the job as the Leafs' second-line pivot straight out of camp. His speed and creativity will mesh well with the other speedsters on the team (think Jason Blake, Niklas Hagman and Jiri Tlusty), and he could surprise to the tune of 45 or 50 points. His upside (which is still a couple years away) is much higher.
Heís tiny but awfully talented. And that could put this 24-year-old on track to win the job as the Leafs' second-line pivot straight out of camp. His speed and creativity will mesh well with the other speedsters on the team (think Jason Black, Niklas Hagman and Jiri Tlusty), and he could surprise to the tune of 45 or 50 points. His upside (which is still a couple years away) is much higher.