During a slow start to a scorching hot salmon charter off the shores of Toronto Island, a long-time friend and avid Leaf follower and I had a discussion regarding what the Toronto Maple Leafs will do with Mikhail Grabovski. The discussion became slightly more relevant in light of Saturday’s signing of 25 year old Clarke MacArthur to a 1 year 1.1 million dollar deal. As pre-season creeps up only weeks away, some in Leaf land have expressed the view of Grabovski playing the wing on the second unit, rather than expose his weaknesses in a defensive roll on the third line. This of course in hopes that rookie Nazem Kadri will show the abilities of what the Leafs need in a second line center and secures that spot. With MacArthur on board it seems as if the Left Wing position on the Leafs second line will be a battle in itself. With more than a few players, including young prospects Jerry D’Amigo, and Marcel Mueller capable of plugging the left side when the puck drops for the season opener, Brian Burke and Ron Wilson have their hands full in shaping out the Leafs top 6. The possibility of a trade is always in play with Burke, but won’t be easily welcomed by a rival GM. Grabovski while showing flashes of his skill has battled with consistency, injuries, and of course his infamous cat fight at a club in Vancouver during the Olympic break. Add in his close to 3 million dollar cap hit and the makings of a true hockey deal are not quite apparent. There is also the temptation of an NHL contract being sent to the Marlies, with Grabovski and Jeff Finger being mentioned most as those on the fence. The demotion of a player seems like a necessary option all be it an unattractive one. Toronto currently sits roughly $100,000 over the NHL salary cap and with the season quickly approaching, a move of this caliber could be the only option for the Leafs. Although the roster is taking its shape, the decisions of Brian Burke and Ron Wilson will surely factor in performance and financial restrictions, while keeping us debating, “what to do”.
About the Author
Written by RJ Emptage
Operations Manager of a retail chain in Southern Ontario (Sports Obsession). Specialize in licensed sports apparel and novelties (Visit sportsobsession.ca). Being from the Hamilton area I grew up and into a die-hard Toronto Maple Leaf Fan, and look forward to a bright blue and white future...(I know that sounds crazy doesn't it?) Love all things sports and the next best thing to playing them, is talking them!