Mikhail Grabovski is a skate-and-shoot center who creates his own scoring opportunities. The Capitals needed another shooter to support Alex Ovechkin, who is a magnet for defensive attention.
Grabovski was seeking an opportunity to rebuild his market value after exiting the Maple Leafs with a compliance buyout. He scored just nine goals added only seven assists with a minus-10 rating in 48 games last season.
He produced 29 goals with 29 assists and a plus-14 rating for Toronto in 2010-11. After falling into a third-line role last season, he was seeking a prime playing opportunity for this season.
The Capitals developed a dominant power play last season (26.9 percent conversion rate) under coach Adam Oates – and that was a huge selling point.
Washington sought a proven scorer to blend with supporting-cast forwards like Troy Brouwer, Martin Erat, Mathieu Perreault and Brooks Laich. Grabovski’s availability on a modest ($3 million) deal was most attractive.
So this late-season marriage made sense for both sides. Here is how both sides assessed the scenario during a conference call with reporters:
Grabovski: “I like the system, it's an offensive team. I just wanted a team who really wants me. The general manager and coach really wanted me. They like how I play, so I chose Washington. I think I can help them."
Oates: “We talked about for a guy like him, what’s success for a guy like that? Winning, but obviously he’s a point-producing player, he wants to get his points, he wants to get his minutes and he wants the responsibility of that. That’s what I liked and I’m a guy that believes in that. I told him ‘I believe we have a good mix for you, consider us.’ ”
Grabovski is a classic example of how an offensive-minded forward should gain value by exploiting a fresh opportunity. Here are some others:
Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars: He takes over as the first-line center after slipping into a third-line in Boston last season. The Stars are banking on a breakout performance.
Seguin appeared on the brink of stardom two years back when he scored 67 points with a plus-34 rating. Last season he slipped to 32 points in 48 games last season while angering the Bruins with his youthful misbehavior off the ice. If he can reel in his lifestyle and avoid social media controversies, look out.
Bobby Ryan, Ottawa Senators: Sometimes he played on the top line in Anaheim, working with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Sometimes he was on the second line. Sometimes he played in the middle, out of position.
Last year he scored just 11 goals in 46 games after scoring 31 or more goals in his previous four seasons.
It appears Senators coach Paul MacLean wants Ryan to fit in with the elite tandem of Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek. He would be a legitimate 40-goal threat playing with those two scorers.
“Wherever they are going to put me, I'm going to be really happy to play,” Ryan told the Ottawa media. “Jason Spezza is a human highlight reel. You know what he's done over the past few years. If that's the fit they were looking for I am more than happy than to stand at the side of the net and watch him work.”
Daniel Alfredsson, Detroit Red Wings: Defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom left a power-play void in Motown when he retired. If Alfredsson fills that void as the point man across from Niklas Kronwall, he could move closer to his old point-per-game form. This was a blockbuster move for the Red Wings.
“What’s happened is, we have much more depth now,” Babcock told the Detroit Free-Press. “Alfie is a guy who is ultra-competitive. He plays his best when it matters. He gives us a right-handed shot. He’ll help our power play immensely.”
Stephen Weiss, Red Wings: He is a classic No. 2-caliber center who will fit in snugly behind Pavel Datsyuk for this potentially explosive team. He should put his injury-marred 2012 season (just four points in 17 games) behind him and resume his 50- to 60-point production -- especially if he plays with Alfredsson on his wing.
“We think he’s a great fit,” Babcock said. “We think with our group, and the leadership we have, that he can be a real good player for us.”
Jarome Iginla, Boston Bruins: As it turned out, he wasn’t an awesome fit with the Penguins after passing on the Bruins to accept a late-season trade to Pittsburgh. He scored four goals added eight assists in 15 playoff games, but failed to muster a point against Boston on the conference finals.
He should be a better fit in Beantown, where he will play his natural right wing with either David Krejci and Milan Lucic or Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
“Jarome can play on either,” general manager Peter Chiarelli told Boston reporters. “He's a very good two-way player. He can easily play on the shutdown, high-end minutes on Bergy's line, or he can shoot. He's got a terrific wrist shot, a slap-shot one-timer, so he can fill in the shooting role too.”
Derek Roy, St. Louis Blues: He will never score 81 points again, as he did for Buffalo in 2007-08. But if he remains healthy, he could score 50 to 60 points while centering one of the top two lines.
The Blues desperately need his playmaking element and Roy is eager to rebuild his market value while playing on a one-year deal.
Coach Ken Hitchcock is intrigued by his potential to play with power forward Chris Stewart, a 30-goal-caliber scorer. “He can really play feisty and nasty at times for a small guy,” Hitchcock told Fox Sports Midwest. “That's where he's really effective. That's what we want to see. For a playmaking guy, he has some real grit to him. That's what I found out when I had him in the World Championships.”
David Perron, Oilers: He scored just 25 points in 48 games last season for the Blues, but he is a clever give-and-go player who plays tenaciously on the puck. Edmonton GM Craig MacTavish believes Perron can be far more productive playing with the Oilers.
“He's just got an incredible skill set . . . a great set of hands," MacTavish told NHL.com. “He's a pretty gritty player as well. He'll go to the areas necessary to score goals. On the outside, I feel like he's a really good fit for our team and the way that we play. There will be more attack opportunities for him, more rush opportunities. I think we potentially could be a better fit for his skill set than the team that he comes from.”