Grabovski: Valuable Trade Chip or Asset?
With the National Hockey League trade deadline approaching, Toronto Maple Leafs center Mikhail Grabovski continues to be amid trade rumours.
The NHL’s first star of the week is a pending unrestricted free agent and could garner significant interest should he decided to test the free agent waters. But that’s not stopping teams from around the league to inquire on his availability for the current season. The 28-year-old (birthday is tomorrow, which means he’s going to light up the Pittsburgh Penguins) is on-pace for 28 goals and 56 points, almost identical to last season’s production, in five less games.
With general manager Brian Burke actively seeking a top-six forward that can add size and strength to the line-up, trade rumours suggest that perhaps Grabovski is an expendable if Burke finds the player he’s looking for on the trade market. If true, would Grabovski’s departure negatively affect the team?
Well, that depends on what the Leafs would get in return. If, say, Burke manages to land a top-line player such as Jeff Carter, Rick Nash or any other star player that’s circulating the rumour mill, then perhaps Grabovski's departure is necessary for the Leafs’ playoff hopes. But Grabovski’s impact on the Leafs is sometimes overlooked, and a quick glance at his statistics will attest to that.
Grabovski leads all Leafs with 30 takeaways, is one of three players in the top-nine with a plus ratio in giveaways/takeaways with a +3, and is third on the Leafs in both even-strength points and points-per-game. For those who value advanced statistics, Grabovski leads the Leafs with an on-ice Corsi (the difference between all shots directed at net for and against at even strength. It measures shots+blocked shots+goals+missed shots) of 7.19. In short, Grabovski is an integral part of the Leafs due to the fact that he’s a puck possession player and is capable of controlling the play in the opponent’s end with his vision and puck-handling skills.
When Grabovski is on the ice, the Leafs spend less time in the defensive end and more time in the opponent’s. If you’re not convinced from Grabovski’s Corsi rating, than take a look at his takeaways. There’s a correlation there.
Relinquishing a player of his ilk, unless it’s for a top-line forward, would be ill-advised. While little news has emerged regarding a potential new contract before the trade deadline, Grabovski’s comments to the media today seemed sincere:
“I know if I play well, I can stay with the same team,” Grabovski said. “This is my home right now. My job is to work hard and give my best on the ice. I just like to play hockey. If I play well, I will have a good contract. If I don’t play well, then it’s my problem.”
That doesn’t sound like a player anxious to test the free agent waters on July 1.
You stay classy, TCL.
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***Advanced statistics retrieved from www.behindthenet.ca***