There are 14 players who have featured in all 12 games the Washington Capitals have played so far in the 2013-14 NHL season. Only one of them currently has a positive plus/minus rating: Mikhail Grabovski with five goals, five assists and a plus/minus rating of plus-2. The next goal Grabovski scores will be his 100th NHL tally.
The stealthy center started well as a Cap by scoring a hat trick in the season opener against the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, but a dry spell followed (along with several poor team performances), forcing head coach Adam Oates to move Grabovski down from the second line to the third on October 19. The tactical move worked, and Grabovski is performing extremely well alongside burly wingers Jason Chimera and Joel Ward.
Grabovski has an impressive 227 points from 379 NHL games and is on course to have his best season ever. His highest season goals total was 29 for the Leafs in 2010-11, and he is more than capable of eclipsing that mark this term.
Speaking of the Leafs, their loss of Grabovski was definitely the Caps’ gain. The Leafs bought Grabovski out of his contract at the end of last season after a chilly lockout-shortened campaign in which Leafs coach Randy Carlyle gave the player limited ice time, especially during the playoffs. Allowing Grabovski to become available to any NHL team was a grave mistake by Toronto given that “Grabo” had recorded 109 points over the previous two 82-game seasons.
Hours after learning of his contract buyout, Grabovski took to the airwaves and barked his displeasure at his boss in a famously profane rant. Oates is no Carlyle, so don’t expect a similar tirade from Grabovski if things go south this term. In fact, Grabovski can rely on support from Oates. The Capitals’ coach is renowned for taking every player under his wing to get the most out of each of them.
Consequently, Grabovski looks happy in his new role, and that speaks to Oates’ knack for instilling calmness and steadiness in his team.
Grabovski said before he started his Caps’ tenure that he’s an “emotional” player. It’s evident on the ice, and we’ll see more emotion when Grabo bags his 100th NHL goal in an upcoming game.