After staying relatively silent since the free agency period began on July 1, the Washington Capitals made what could turn out to be best move of the summer when they signed Mikhail Grabovski to a one-year, $3 million contract on Friday.
Grabovski, who was bought out by the Toronto Maple Leafs after the 2012-13 season, has been lined up to play center on the Capitals’ second line, where he will dispatch Brooks Laich and help provide secondary scoring for the team as the team gears up for a run at the Stanley Cup.
On the second line, Grabovski will be complimented by Troy Brouwer and Martin Erat, who will provide both a combination of skill and grit that will open up large spaces of ice. This open space will allow Grabovski to see many more touches on the puck, which in turn will lead to increased scoring opportunities throughout the season.
In the past, Grabovski has shown that he is capable of producing second-line quality numbers, as he posted 58 and 51 points in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, and will be playing with much less pressure in Washington than he did in Toronto. He is a wildly skilled player that has underperformed when given too much pressure, which makes him a perfect match for playing on the second line and having the scoring burden taken off his shoulders by Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Ovechkin.
Furthermore, the addition of Grabovski means that the Capitals’ bottom six forward corps will be greatly enhanced, as Brooks Laich will be able to fill the role of third-line center that suits him best. Laich has a career points per game average of .5o, and plays the sort of rough-and-tumble style that all Stanley Cup contenders need from their bottom six forwards even if it’s not the most flashy of roles.
While other teams have been giving out outrageous deals in looking for the player that will take them over the top, the Capitals have found theirs on a one-year deal in Grabovski.
He will be fully motivated to put up career numbers during the 2013-2014 season in the hopes that it will lead to a long-term deal after his one-year contract. This motivation will be very beneficial for the Capitals as they look to make a run for the Stanley Cup, as they now have a much better combination of secondary scoring and overall forward depth.
It should be no surprise when this signing turns out to be the best move of the summer by any NHL team.