July 14th, 2013

Dobber Sports

2013-07-14

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Between Mikhail Grabovski, Dustin Penner, Damien Brunner, Tom Gilbert and Toni Lydman, you could legitimately build a pretty solid second-line and second-pairing out of remaining unrestricted free-agents.

 

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How much money did Grabovski’s outspoken comments about Randy Carlyle’s level of intelligence cost him in free-agency? Did it cost him an NHL job altogether?

 

I tend to think of Grabovski as one of the top-10 best two-way centreman in hockey, but the fact that it’s mid-July and he’s yet to sign a deal suggests that the industry doesn’t rate him too highly for some reason (be it personal or performance based).

 

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Eric T wrote a great piece on possession stats and free-agency this weekend. Turns out that everyone and their mother’s hairdresser’s milkman wants to sign the guy who produces goals, or punches faces, but the market undervalues possession players. 

 

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Which brings us back to Grabovski. If the industry isn’t rating him highly, they’re wrong. Some team is going to improve enormously upon signing “Grabbo,” and if the Anaheim rumours are true then I’m almost giddy for an Andrew Cogliano, Mikhail Grabovski, Daniel Winnik line. What an ice-tilting group that might be (even playing in front of Anaheim’s underwhelming batch of blue-liners).

 

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Like essentially every other hockey fan, media member, NHL player, or executive – I’m still mentally unpacking the Kovalchuk defection and its possible ramifications for the sport, the league and the Devils organization. 

 

What a shocking development that was, eh?

 

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Obviously the Devils benefit. Yes the organization loses a super elite talent, which is never good. But in terms of taking on a lesser “cap benefit recapture” penalty as a result of Kovalchuk’s enormously controversial contract, and in being freed up from a 77 million dollar commitment at a time when the franchise is in dire straits financially… Well let’s just say there’s a reason or two behind why the Devils aren’t fighting this. 

 

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Great stuff from Cam Charron breaking down the Kovalchuk brouhaha through the prism of salary cap recapture this weekend.

 

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For the league as a whole this is a bit of a black eye, I think. As Greg Wyshynski wrote in his excellent take on Kovalchuk’s Devils tenure and ultimate defection, Kovalchuk is “worth the price of admission.” And now Kovalchuk’s an attraction that will no longer be a part of the NHL’s big show.

 

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For the sport of hockey, however, I’m conflicted as to