Mikhail Grabovski: Sell High or Treasure?


Post Game Notes: Leafs light up Atlanta

One of the more polarizing players on the Toronto Maple Leafs roster, Mikhail Grabovski has been on the tongues of Leafs Nation with his current hot streak in full effect. He suddenly has a lot of new and of course the old diehard “always believed in him” fans on his side with his torrid scoring pace over the past month.  Another game tonight, another two goals… the hot streak is borderline madness.

Just how hot has “Grabo” been?  Think back if you will to last season when enigmatic (for Toronto anyway) scoring winger Lee Stempniak was dealt to the Phoenix Coyotes (for nothing) and was almost literally in the news every day for his scoring exploits – 14 goals in 18 games!  Well since December 6, 2010 Grabovski has scored at an even more ridiculous clip with 12 goals in 14 games, the hottest player in the league over that time span.

Nobody is questioning the outstanding bounce back season Grabovski is having as he is on pace for 30 goals and 30 assists (assuming he can play 80 games). Xonsidering the Leafs overall lack of scoring this season, it’s even more impressive.  My question is – should the Leafs be looking at cashing in on this hot streak and selling him to the highest bidder while his trade value is as high as it will ever be?

Grabovski, who turns 27 on January 31st, is in his third season with the boys in blue since being acquired from the Montreal Canadiens for Greg Pateryn and a second round pick (2010 draft).  He has played in 176 games with the Leafs scoring 47 goals and adding 68 assists (112 points, or 0.65 per game).  Though the reclusive Grabovski has at various times frustrated fans and management with stretches of indifferent play, it’s hard not to like that trade.

However, with the trade deadline drawing closer (February 28, 2011) I think it’s safe to say teams could be inquiring to Brian Burke and the Leafs about possibly prying Grabovski away.  Making a reasonable (if not thrifty) $2.85 million dollars this season and signed for only one more season at $3.1 million (cap hit $2.9 million) it would seem nearly every team in the league could add that salary, especially for a potential thirty goal scorer which are always in extremely short supply.

Could this be the perfect storm Brian Burke has been waiting for in terms of making a big splash on the trade market and bringing in a much needed influx of young talent (and draft picks) more in the Burke mould?  With the Dallas Stars recently acquiring Jamie Langenbrunner (for a conditional third round pick) it appears the Stars are going “all-in” this season and one would assume they have all but taken Brad Richards off the trade market.

Just simple supply and demand would suggest that Burke holds a potential ace up the sleeve with a relatively young, cheap and talented centre who has taken his game to an entirely new level in 2010-11.  There were as many as nine scouts from nine different teams in attendance of the Maple Leafs game last night, including Colorado, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Boston, Edmonton, Carolina, Dallas, Calgary and the New York Rangers.

With the Leafs rumoured to be shopping the usual suspects (Francois Beauchemin, Mike Komisarek, Tomas Kaberle, etc) could Burke and the Leafs pull off another surprise blockbuster and potentially move a guy like Mikhail Grabovski?  While it would be a tough sell for Leafs nation to just up and trade the leading scorer the reality is the Leafs are 2-3 years away (at best) from becoming a legitimate Stanley Cup contender and his value might never be higher.

If doing what is best for the team is all that matters to Brian Burke, then I would guess he has already started preliminary discussions with teams to get a feel for his value league wide.  Maybe the market is softer than I anticipate and keeping him could turn out to be the most sensible solution.

What do you think, is it best to keep or trade him?  What type of return would you anticipate/expect?  Am I overstating his value?

The MLHS crew is on twitter, join the fun.