The long wait is finally over. The top free agent remaining on the market has reached an agreement on a one-year contract, as Mikhail Grabovski signed with the Washington Capitals, to the tune of a very favorable $3 million cap hit.
It’s a terrific deal for the Capitals, who get someone to slot in as their no. 2 center behind Nicklas Backstrom, helping to ease the loss of Mike Ribeiro. For the Florida Panthers, though, this is a move that could be seen as a big loss for a team that could have used some help in the middle.
The Panthers have failed to upgrade their roster that finished at or near the bottom of the league in nearly every statistical category in 2013. To a certain extent, that’s understandable. They’re hoping to get a healthier team, and have some young talent that is ready to step up.
But when your only notable addition is Scott Gomez, as solid an addition as that may be, there are issues. The Panthers are thin on experience in the middle. They have youngsters Nick Bjugstad and Aleksander Barkov that could take over in the middle, but not much else.
Grabovski would have proved a significant upgrade for the club, and not only would have improved their level of experience, he would have proven to be the impact addition that this club could have used coming off of the season that they are.
And for $3 million, that’s a price that virtually any team in the league can afford to pay for a player of Grabovski’s caliber. The Panthers really missed an opportunity here, and will now watch Grabovski line up against them, and potentially have a big year for a bargain price.