Reading the Tea Leafs: Mikhail Grabovski

Following on the success of two other dormant series Chemmy and I have decided that in order to fill the gap in NHL news that we'll take a look at each of the current Leafs, possible Leafs on the Marlies, and prospects. We'll recap their performance last year, what we can expect from them, and how they can win our hearts (hint: signing the contract was a good first step...unless your name is Bryan McCabe Ian White). We have no idea how long of a series this will end up being or how consistent it will be but with two of us expect it to only be half as half-assed and twice as timely.

 Someone should have given him #94 instead of #84.

Contract Status (according to NHL Numbers)
$850K salary, $850K cap hit, RFA July 1, 2009

Age (as of October 1, 2008)
24 - January 31, 1984

NHL Seasons
Small parts of two

Run of the Mill Biographical Information

2007-2008 Stats and Team Ranking*

(Scoring rates via Behind The Net)

* From Montreal

Counting Stats Total/Rank Category 5-on-5 5-on-4 4-on-5
Games Played 24 - 23 TOI/60 10.31 - 19 0.44 - 15 0.04 - 18
Goals 3 - 18 Pts/60 1.94 - 4 5.71 - 4 0.00 - 12
Assists 6 - 18 GFON/60 2.67 - 7 5.71 - 17 0.00 - 15
Points 9 - 20 GAON/60 3.39 - 2 0.00 - 8 0.00 - 20

Marital Status
There seems to be some confusion about whether he is married or not. What they do know is that he is seeing someone named Marina.

Former Leaf he'd have to play like in order to be christened a deity
This isn't really fair to any young Russian kid that plays for Toronto because I loved the old #94 and I always hope they'll be the second coming but...Sergei Berezin.

Biggest Question Marks
Does he even make the team?

2007-2008 Summary
I'm hoping to get some fresh views from a couple of Habs blogs but here are a couple of posts that will show how fans of the team see/saw Grabovski.

Update: From Jeff J:

Well, let's see... on opening night he was centering A. Kostitsyn and Kovalev.  It didn't go well and it didn't last.  He bounced around the lineup for awhile, then was a regular scratch for awhile, then was sent to Hamilton.  He tore it up there until he sprained an ankle.  Once healthy he earned a late-season recall on the back of some significant AHL numbers (20pts in 12 gp).  After playing in a handful of games he was named a healthy scratch in Phoenix.  That's when he skipped out on the team charter and took a commercial flight to LA to meet with his agent.  Staff downplayed the event and he was in the lineup for most of the rest of the year, but everyone figured this would be his last season with the club.  There still wasn't room on the top lines, though he did get to play with some skill players and put up some numbers.

He's a talented player and has pretty good wheels, but he's small and not as responsible as you'd like a centreman to be.  He's had some untimely injuries too.  The main problem last year was too many other players were suited for his role but were better/younger/bigger/more complete.  He's cast from the same mold as Oleg Petrov or Sergei Krivokrasov.  Like them he's good enough to be an offensive contributor on a bad team, or maybe even on a good team with just the right hole.

Projected 2008-2009 role/team
The beauty of having your team pick up a relative unknown is that you can project all of your hopes and desires for the team onto that poor unaware player.

Need a sniper on the powerplay? Mikhail Grabovski.

Need a speedster to play the wing opposite of Jason Blake? Mikhail Grabovski.

Need to replace an oft-injured pillow soft centre? Mikhail Grabovski.

Need to give Leafs Nation a whipping boy in the fight against misuse of assets? Mikhail Grabovski.

Need a player that can develop into a top 6 forward offensively? Mikhail Grabovski.

Like so many of his young, offensive-minded brethren it is difficult to see just where he will slot into the lineup. At the very least I would have to say that if he's not on the Marlies getting huge minutes then he'll head out to the KHL and the Leafs will have wasted two assets for a year of minor league hockey from a disgruntled player.

In light of that, I'll say that he makes the team and plays on the third line and gets some second unit time on the powerplay.

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