Mikhail Grabovski is at the top of most lists of free agents as one the best available players on the market. He seeks a new home now after having his contract was bought out by the Toronto Maple Leafs. The decision seems to be in his corner to choose a team after several suitors have already come forward. Yet, he remains unsigned.
Grabovski has the talent for a top-line position, but may not necessarily have the stats to prove it. Before going to Toronto, he was a player who could average around 50 points a season. During his time with the Leafs, that fell to the 20s after being relegated to the third line with the enforcers and fringe players. It was also during this time that he averaged only 15 minutes a game.
Hopefully, for his sake, he will find a team that can give him the minutes he needs to produce. The most he can look forward to is that he will find one such team. The most likely seems to currently be the Washington Capitals, who can use a replacement for Mike Ribeiro.
The stats for each player are similar, though, Grabovski will be able to show he is the better player with more ice time. If Grabovski is not looking for a pay-day contract, rather just a place to show off a revival of his career, then the Capitals may be the place to do it. It is unlikely he would get a big contract anyway until he can prove himself capable of the money again. He will be paid $14.33 million over the next eight years by the Leafs, so it is not much of a burden for him to sign a one- or two-year deal worth a couple million a season.
However, it seems that Grabovski is waiting around while trying to get the best offer possible from his suitors. I do not expect he will get a big contract in this restricted market, due to the salary cap so late in free agency. In addition there are only a handful of team that have enough money left to sign him. A short-term deal to prove he still has what it takes coupled with the benefit of enough ice time will be the fix for his loitering in free agency and is really all that he need for the moment.
A deal in the coming weeks will be a formality at this point as he will want to be signed before training camps start. Whether it is the Capitals or someone else, it does not really matter at this point as long as he gets a chance to shine.
Tim Nikolouzos is a Boston Bruins writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @timnikolou