The Grabovski Dilemma
To say that Mikhail Grabovski has been a bright spot for the Leafs this season would be a huge understatement. You could easily argue that he's been the Leafs' best player this season and his stats definitely support that case. This isn't just a case of the player being in the right place at the right time to pick up garbage goals. I've seen Grabovski create plays out of virtually nothing this season and he's shown a level of finesse that I don't think anyone ever expected to see from him.
If you didn't get a chance to see Grabovski's wicked shootout goal from last night, I've posted it at the end of this blog so you can check it out.
Admittedly, I have never been a fan of Mikhail Grabovski. It seemed to me that he didn't have a passion for this game and even with the year he's having, I still don't know that he does. In addition to that, his attitude has bothered me. From his feud with Sergei Kostitsyn to being arrested at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games for allegedly punching a man and woman in the face, there have been no shortage of incidents that have put Grabovski in a negative spotlight. With that said, his attitude does seem to have improved this season. I don't know if that's a result of his teammates or him just growing up, but his improved attitude seems to have translated to success on the ice.
His attitude though is one of the main reasons that the Montreal Canadiens decided to trade him to the Leafs back in 2008. But I'm sure even they never thought Grabovski would produce the way he has this season.
Grabovski also appears to be a popular player in the dressing room, with Colby Armstrong quoted as saying this a week ago:
"I think he's an unbelievable player, I'm a huge fan. I tell him everyday he's one of my favorite players in the NHL."
So here we have a young player who looks to have quite a bit of skill and is well liked in the dressing room. This guy also happens to play center, a position that's pretty shallow for the Leafs. He's also been very consistent this year, his points are not bulked together in a short game span. So what's the dilemma?
Well if you watched Darren Dreger and Bob Mackenzie during the second intermission of last night's game on TSN, then you heard the discussion about the possibility of Grabovski being traded. As trade talks heat up, Brian Burke is going to have to decide which players he wants to keep and which he wants to deal. The TSN insiders pointed out last night that most GM's calling the Leafs right now are asking about Mikhail Grabovski.
Now obviously this makes sense, if you're a Leaf fan that thinks Burke is going to be able to trade players like Joey Crabb for something better, well then you need to remind yourself that Darryl Sutter has stepped down as the general manager of the Calgary Flames.
So now what? We have a good young player, but if we want to make a good trade, we'll probably have to give him up. Do we keep him or do we give him away?
As Bob Mackenzie pointed out last night, to make that decision, management has to decide whether or not what we're seeing from Grabovski is the real deal or whether it's an illusion. If they think this is just an illusion, then this is the perfect time to trade him. If they think this is the real thing, well then you might be trading away a good young player that maybe hasn't even peaked.
At first I said to myself, no way Grabovski keeps this up, this is just an illusion. But then I remembered that this is only Grabovski's third full season in the NHL. He's still a developing player, this isn't just Jason Blake having a career as a 33-year old. But with that said, even though Grabovski's career is still young, don't mistaken him for a prospect. Grabovski isn't a young 3rd year player, as he turns 27 at the end of this month. While that isn't old, that's not the age you'd expect to see from a 3rd year player.
Essentially this is a player who's career is young, but is entering the age range of what most consider to be the prime of an NHLer's career. To trade or not to trade?
The Verdict: Yes, I think you absolutely trade him. I don't think Grabovski is ever going to be a first line center and I think that he's very replaceable. Right now he's more valuable than he's ever been and so it's a classic case of buy low, sell high. With that said, he shouldn't be traded just for the sake of trading him. Keep in mind that the Leafs gave up a 2nd round pick for this guy, so if the Leafs aren't offered more than that, then I think they should keep him.
What are your thoughts? What do you think the Leafs should do?