The Washington Capitals announced Friday morning the signing of center Mikhail Grabovski to a one-year, $3 million deal. Grabovski, 29, had 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) and 24 PIMs in 48 tumultuous games with Toronto last season. In 2011-12, the Belorussian center recorded 23 goals and 28 assists with the Leafs, ranking third in both categories.
“Mikhail adds speed and offense to our lineup, and we are very pleased to have him sign with the Capitals,” said Caps GM George McPhee through a team press release. “We believe he will be an excellent addition to our club.”
Grabovski fills a void left by the departure of Mike Ribeiro, who signed with the Phoenix Coyotes immediately after the free agent period opened last month.
As our friends over at Russian Machine and Japers Rink so aptly and thoroughly described, Grabovski might not put up top-of-the-leaderboard point totals, but he is particularly adept at driving play and making players around him better, and will help the Capitals tremendously in puck possession from the second line center position, theoretically lining up with Martin Erat and Troy Brouwer.
Grabovski’s arrival will have a ripple effect throughout the Caps lineup. It allows coach Adam Oates to slide Brooks Laich into the 3C slot, a much more natural position for him and a more comfortable grouping with Joel Ward, a fellow penalty killer, and Jason Chimera on the wings.
The signing does not come without warning though. Grabovski has had his share of on- and off-ice problems, including a feud with Randy Carlyle, his coach last season, that saw his role and ice time diminish, resulting in the Leafs buying out Grabovski under the contract amnesty clause of the CBA once the season finished.
But his arrival in Washington provides Grabovski with a clean slate, and considering his age, experience and contract status, he should be plenty motivated this season to play hard, keep his nose clean, and put up good numbers in order to secure a long-term contract once the season ends, whether he’s retained here in D.C. or he hits the open market once again.
Grabovski is scheduled to meet the Caps press this afternoon via teleconference, and District Sports Page will update this story as more information becomes available.