Leafs Grab Grabby As Fletcher Continues To Retool

Josh LewisSenior Analyst IJuly 3, 2008

As first broken by Derek Harmsworth, the Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired 24-year-old centre Mikhail Grabovski from the Montreal Canadiens for recently-drafted blueliner Greg Pateryn and a second-round pick in 2010.

Grabovski, a native of Germany who grew up in Belarus, has 29 NHL games to his credit in which he registered three goals and six assists.

He is described as an extremely fast player with excellent playmaking ability.

The downside? Grabovski's hands aren't the only thing that's soft. He is easily knocked off the puck and must play on the top two lines to be effective. He does not know the definition of physicality.

(Well, I'm sure he knows what it means, but that's not the point.)

It's top six or bust for this guy, in more ways than one.

Grabby, as he was monikered by Habs fans, is a natural centre and will likely be given every opportunity to centre the Leafs' second line.

The important question is, who will flank him? Grabovski is a player who needs the right linemates to be successful, given his size (5'11", 182 lbs) and reluctance to get dirty.

He would probably be a good fit between a speedy goal scorer and a physical player with a defensive conscience.

Grabby, meet Jiri Tlusty and Nikolai Kulemin. This could be the fastest line in the entire league, not to mention one of the most entertaining.

The arrival of the newest Leaf could signal the end for Alexei Ponikarovsky. With the acquisition of Grabovski, along with gritty winger Niklas Hagman, the Leafs simply don't have room for a player like Ponikarovsky who hasn't carved out a defined role for himself.

What we have here is a solid deal for both teams. The Habs are simply stacked with young forwards and didn't have space for Grabovski. In return, they pick up what is likely to be a high second round pick two years down the road, as well as Pateryn, a fifth-round pick of the Leafs who is a long-term project defenseman.

The Leafs have lots of time to recoup a second rounder for the 2010 draft and with three stay-at-home guys currently in the system (Jeff Finger, Luke Schenn and Phil Oreskovic), Pateryn won't be missed.

The Maple Leafs might not be any good next year, but they'll be a lot of fun to watch.