You knew it could only be a matter of time.
The first of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ big money players has finally picked up and headed overseas to play in Europe.
Leafs’ center Mikhail Grabovski will head to Europe’s premier league (the KHL) to play for CSKA Moscow for the duration of the NHL lockout, according to The Fourth Period, who reported the Belorussian native had inked a deal as of yesterday.
Grabovski will join fellow NHLers Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Bryzgalov in Moscow, setting up what should be a fantastic rivalry with fellow KHL club Metallurg Magnitogorsk, who have already landed NHL star Evgeni Malkin, veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar and Grabovski’s teammate and linemate Nikolai Kulemin.
Dinamo Minsk of Grabovski’s native Belarus was also in the hunt to acquire the speedy center’s services.
Grabovski becomes Toronto’s first $5 million man to head across the pond until the lockout finally comes to an end.
He will, however, assume a big risk as he heads over to Europe as he would not receive compensation should he injure himself and the lockout come to an end, meaning he’d be out of his NHL salary until he fully recovered and started playing again for the Leafs.
An injury to Grabovski overseas would also prove to be detrimental to the Leafs as a team if he were not ready for the start of this NHL season should it kick off at some point, seeing as the Leafs are already lacking a number one center. Losing their second line center as well would pretty much kill any hopes of a postseason appearance for the Leafs in 2012-2013.
Last season, Grabovski managed to tally 51 points in 74 games (23 of which were goals) for the Leafs, despite the fact that linemate Nikolai Kulemin had a terrible season on his wing.
Here’s to hoping that the lockout wraps up soon and Mikhail Grabovski is able to avoid the injury bug for his entire stay in Russia.