July 04 2013 10:32AM
Word from the insiders on twitter is that the Maple Leafs have waived Mikhail Grabovski for the purposes of buying him out today. This is a prelude to unrestricted free agency opening up this weekend (and possible re-signing Tyler Bozak). It's a comically poor decision for Toronto who are one of the worst possession teams in the league, but it represents an opportunity for the Flames.
Gabovski had a down year last season in terms of output, but that was due to a combination ofr brutally difficult circumstances and really poor luck (36% ZS and toughest competition on the team, PDO of 98.8). Grabbo has historically been the best possession center on the Leafs and once his percentages regress to the mean his counting numbers will drastically improve as well. Style wise, he is fast, agile, creative with the puck and a quality passer.
Grabovski is 29 and will be paid an average of $5.5M for each of the next 4 seasons, so he's not cheap and there's some risk at the end of the deal. On the other hand, he's a legit top-6 center capable of playing other top-6 opponents and is available for nothing. If he rebounds next season he improves the Flames to a non-trivial degree and could become a viable trade asset should Calgary look to flip him for a return a year or two down the road.
Bonus - check out the difference between Bozak and Grabovski's effect on Phil Kessel.
There isn't a better option on the UFA market than Grabovski. The Flames are high on the waiver order priority...they could either grab him for free right now and accept his exisiting contract or try to court him as a UFA when (if?) he is bought out.
I don't know if the Flames brass will seriously consider acquiring Grabovski, but they should.