Grabovski had “an offer from another club?”


Photo: The Toronto Star

Today, Dmitry Chesnokov tweeted a quote from an interview with Mikhail Grabovski, where our recent signing claims to have been in contact with another team not named the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The quote, as translated by Chesnokov, read:

Were there any doubts when you extended your contract?

“There were doubts, and there was an offer from another club. If I wasn’t needed in Toronto, I wouldn’t have signed the contract. It turned out I was needed. I love Toronto. I want to play in that city.”

Before we go any further, please be advised that this is all pure speculation. Keep that preface firmly planted in your mind as we continue with the speculation.

Now, it’s completely possible that the team Grabo is referring to is a KHL team. Anything else, like Darren Dreger promptly noted (“Had an offer? How…he was still under contract.”), would fall under tampering. Okay, let’s assume for a moment this was a KHL team.

If history has shown us anything, it’s that KHL teams typically go for two types of players. One category can be described as players who are too spent to play in the NHL but still are marquee names in a KHL market. Players who would give added credibility to the league itself, like Fedorov, Yashin, or even Hašek (although not the best example since he didn’t move right after). The other category includes players who couldn’t cut it in the NHL. The likes of Afinogenov, Thoresen (also not right after, played 48 games for Lugano in between), or Prucha.

To me, Grabovski doesn’t fit the KHL bill. Frankly, I doubt that he has as much “name” (or star power if you will) to make a KHL team offer big money to sign him, unless that team is named Dynamo Minsk. Grabovski is Belarusian, arguably their best player, and so it would make a lot of sense that a KHL team based in Belarus would be interested in him. However, at the time of his signing – unlike someone like Afinogenov – Grabovski still held very good NHL value. Adding to that, Grabovski could have chosen the UFA route which, considering this year’s free agent class, would have feasibly netted him an even more lucrative deal than what he’ll be making with the Leafs. Grabo will make 6 million in 2012-13, 6 million in 2013-14, 6 million in 2014-15, 5 million in 2015-16, and 4.5 million in 2016-17 throughout duration of his contract with the Maple Leafs.

Keeping all this in mind, I don’t really want to compare anything here. I just want to stipulate that if Grabo wanted to sign with that phantom other team, the deal would have to be considerably higher than 5.5 million per year in order tempt a move to the KHL. If you’re not a KHL team named Dynamo Minsk, that makes little to no sense. As much as we love him, Grabo isn’t named Jagr, Kovalchuk or even Radulov, tax laws be damned.

To conclude, it’s entirely possible that the team Grabo was referring to was indeed a KHL team named Dynamo Minsk. It’s entirely possible, although much less probable, it was another KHL team. It’s also possible Grabovski spilled the beans a little bit and it is an NHL team we’re talking about. If true, well all know what this would imply. After all, it can be argued that Grabo’s value to your typical NHL coach far surpasses his KHL marketability for any team not named Dynamo Minsk.

This is the original text of the relevant part of the interview:

— Не было сомнений, когда продлевали контракт?


— Сомнения были, и предложение от другого клуба имелось. Если бы не был нужен в «Торонто», не подписывал бы контракт. Оказался нужен. Я люблю Торонто — хочу играть в этом городе.

When put into Google translate (however crude that might be), it reads:

– There was no doubt as to renew the contract?


– Doubts have been, and an offer from another club there. If it was not needed in “Toronto” did not sign a contract. Was needed. I love Toronto – I want to play in this city.

Given he was speaking to a Belorussian hockey media outlet, “there” is the key word. I’ve also tried to translate it into Croatian (my native language and a more similar language, thus offering a better translation),  and it reads “There was doubt and an offer from another team there.” Sentence structure can be lost through Google Translate, but I did translate the quote into two very different languages, including my own. “Another club” in itself may suggest an NHL team in addition to the Toronto Maple Leafs expressed interest.

Again, I’m not reading the world into this, but it may be something worth looking into.