This morning the news broke that Mikhail Grabovski had re-upped with the Toronto Maple Leafs for the next 5 years at $5.5M a season.
Reaction in Leafs Nation seems to be mixed with regard to the number. I think the best summation of why I'm completely fine with the deal came from @67sound who said, "Here's the question no one can answer: If you let Grabbo walk, how do you replace him let alone upgrade other spots?"
There's no substitute on the open market for Grabovski (let alone one that would be more cost effective) and there's nobody in the organisation who can step into his role either. Grabovski has become a player who will put up between 55 and 65 points with limited powerplay time and while driving possession at even strength.
1. For those who think that Joe Colborne is ready to be a second line center in the NHL, look at his second-half numbers with the Marlies. He might be as good as Grabovski someday, but it wont happen any time soon.
2. Pursuant to that, Grabovski's ability to fill the second line center spot now gives the Leafs a much better chance of capitalizing on Kessel's very efficient $5.4M contract over the next two seasons. Giving Colborne the baptism-by-fire would likely put an end to any hopes Leafs Nation has in that regard.
3. If you hate the Grabovski signing because the Leafs are running out of cap space, blame Colby Armstrong, Matthew Lombardi, Tim Connolly, and Mike Komisarek instead. Grabovski might be an expensive second line center, but at least he's worth it.
4. Mike Komisarek airing out his grievances with Ron Wilson this week left me with an odd impression. On the one hand, I have to commend Komisarek for keeping it to himself for so long as it was fairly apparent that he was unhappy during the better part of Wilson's tenure. On the other hand though, I'm not a fan of kicking a dead horse.
5. For all the press that Greg McKegg gets around the Leafs' blogging community, there's another Leaf prospect who bears mentioning; Josh Leivo. On a so-so Sudbury Wolves team, Leivo is putting up similar point totals to those McKegg is dropping on a top-ranked London squad. Oh, and Leivo is also a year younger.
6. Looks like another interesting RFA contract negotiation coming up this summer for Brian Burke. Nikolai Kulemin is set to be an RFA one year removed from his 30 goal season and this year he's on pace for less than 10. Kulemin's negotiations are the anti-MacArthur and what kind of deal he'll get is anyone's guess at this point.
7. Of all the times to need a goalie, this offseason seems like a pretty good one. Nabokov, Vokoun, and Harding are all UFAs, it looks like it's getting close to decision time on Bernier in LA and Schneider in Vancouver, and to top it all off we're starting to hear rumblings in Boston that the Bruins may move Thomas to make room for Rask after Thomas' pot-stirring behaviour didn't sit well with some in the organisation. Whether Thomas stays or goes, there are a lot of options available this summer.
8. I'm really glad Dallas Eakins didn't get the head coaching job for the Leafs. I think Eakins has done a good job of developing our young players in the AHL but it isn't as though the Marlies were tearing up the league prior to this season nor have Eakins' teams been world-beaters when it comes to the penaltykill -- a major area of concern for this year's Leafs. Our last GM before Burke had no NHL experience and we all saw how that ended. This isn't a market where we should be training coaches or management.
9. Turns out Randy Carlyle isn't an omnipotent magician. Which is a shame because beating the Bruins last night would have been awesome.
10. I really liked Carlyle's timeout call. The Leafs were on a 5-on-3 during a critical moment in the second period and it was important to get things right. The fact that the team didn't score shouldn't be held against him; what's important is that he made a creative, intelligent decision. That was one of the few promising moments in an otherwise typical Leafs v Bruins matchup.