This morning, Toronto Maple Leafs center Mikhail Grabovski signed an extension that keeps him with the team through 2017. According to James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail, via Twitter, the deal is worth $27.5 million with an AAV/cap hit of $5.5 million.
When it comes to Grabovski’s cap hit, he ranks in the top 50 among forwards. There are superstars like Ryan Kesler and Marian Hossa who carry a lower cap hit but then again Shawn Horcoff also makes $5.5 million per season. Grabovski statistically is a top-75 forward in terms of production but does so with truncated minutes. However, his time on ice compared to top pivot Tyler Bozak is so minimal you might call him a 1A center. When the lockout first ended, it seemed like the recipe for success was two productive centers flanked by scoring wingers. In Bozak and Grabovski, GM Brian Burke and company maintain a steady 1-2 punch down the middle.
Furthermore, Grabovski really looks good when using advanced stats. His Relative Corsi is a team-leading 13.9 which means he is much more valuable on the ice than off. Using that same statistic, Grabovski ranks 16th in the league among players with the same amount of games played. The players surrounding him are Corey Perry and Shea Weber for those interested in this query. The Bellarussian pivot clearly knows how to generate offense consistently, which is why he earned his new paycheck.
By that same token, head coach Randy Carlyle likes him. According to Mirtle, Carlyle didn’t know Grabovski very well before taking over the team but considered him the best player on the ice on Saturday night. It is that same vote of confidence which should keep him on the second line and in Toronto for the next five seasons. And because of those facts, his fantasy hockey value should remain the same.
There are about five second-line centers who have produced more than Grabovski this season. Even though he may not be the perfect specimen of North-South gritty-ness for Don Cherry to gush over, he quietly gets the job done in one of the hardest places to put up numbers. Having said all that, would you give him $5.5 million a season?