Kevin Cheveldayoff really needs to use his advanced waiver wire experience today folks. The Leafs have placed Mikhail Grabonski on unconditional waivers with the plan of buying him out, and he would be an almost perfect fit for the Jets right now.
Until this year (a season that saw him completely mismanaged and poorly used by Randy Carlyle), Grabovski had been the Leafs best puck possession forward for 3 seasons straight (he was 4th in 2008-2009). A factor that needs drastic improvement by the Jets, especially considering the upcoming loss of Kyle Wellwood and the questions surrounding Alex Burmistrov.
This season Grabovski still managed to stay in the positives (relative Corsi-wise) despite playing against some of the toughest competition, having a mere 36.7% O-Zone Starts, and a PDO of 988 (the teams lowest). Seeing those numbers it’s of little surprise that his point production dropped drastically. Yet, since his arrival with the Leafs in 08/09 he has put up a grand total of 208 points, second only to star Phil Kessel. In the last 3 years he has put up a total of 43 goals 5 on 5, ranking him 30th in the league among all forwards ahead of players such as Evgeni Malkin, Brad Richards, Eric Staal, Ilya Kovalchuk and Claude Giroux. He also ranks 17th among centers with 61 total goals, ahead of Anze Kopitar, Matt Duchene, Pavel Datsyuk and others.
Claiming Grabovski would provide the Jets with not only a top 6 forward, but a terrific option for the second line center position alongside Evander Kane. That would give them more options with Olli Jokinen, open up more room for potential trades, and provide Scheifele with a year of development in the AHL if he really isn’t ready for the big step. He can provide the style and skill that the Jets really need to improve on right now, while not reducing the puck possesion abilities that UFA Kyle Wellwood has been able to provide.
The contract may be little much, as he currently sits at a $5.5 million dollar cap hit through the 2016-2017 season, but I would be willing to bank on him recovering from his down year if placed in a better opportunity. Yes, playing on a second line with Evander Kane is a better opportunity. Should he be able to enter free agency there is little doubt in my mind that he will go for a decent, likely higher, price.
The Jets are in a strong position in regards to cap space (despite the pending RFA’s), and are closer to the top of the waiver list than the top, so at this point of time the potential risk is definitely worth the potential reward.