Toronto Maple Leafs: Top 10 Reasons Why Mikhail Grabovski Is the Best
These days, you can't sit and have your coffee in a Tim Hortons without hearing people mentioning Mikhail Grabovski in trade rumors. It seems that whatever troubles the Toronto Maple Leafs have can only be solved with a trade that includes Grabovski.
I can only hope that these are only rumors because as I see it, he is probably the Leafs' best all-around player. I would be very disappointed to see No. 84 leave for another team.
Here are the top 10 reasons why Grabovski is my favorite current Leaf. After you read these, perhaps he will be your favorite too.
Power Play Goals
On a team that netted only 26 power play goals all season, Grabovski managed to collect 10 of them. That means 38 percent of all power play goals scored by the Leafs were made by Grabovski. Only Phil Kessel scored more, but he was supposed to do that for the Leafs.
No one expected that kind of production out of Grabovski at the beginning of last year. His power play scoring was a key for Toronto's success last year and it will be again this year.
Mikhail Grabovski is one of the most consistent Leafs. Last year he played in 81 out of 82 games.
As a forward, he was second on the team in time-on-ice behind Phil Kessel and second in shifts-per-game behind Tyler Bozak. He led the team in goals scored at the Air Canada Centre and was second behind Clarke MacArthur in total points scored at home.
Not only does the guy hustle, but he consistently hustles. That should be enough to make him a home-crowd favorite.
Plus / Minus Leader
Among the many other positive stats that Grabovski accumulated last year, the most notable must have been his stellar plus/minus ratio of plus-14. That was so outstanding as to be twice as good as the next best starter—Nikolai Kulemin, who finished the season with a plus-seven.
That was quite a remarkable feat for the Belarusian forward considering the Leafs were out-scored by 32 goals, 213-245. Only three players on the team were able to recorded a positive plus/minus for the Leafs last year, Darryl Boyce (plus-eight) being the other.
There is no doubt that this stat proves he takes his defensive responsibilities seriously. Make no mistake, Grabovski plays both ways.
Not only is Mikhail Grabovski an offensive threat, he can play on the defensive side of the puck as well. As a top-six forward, he garnered the second-most penalty kill time-on-ice behind Tyler Bozak.
But perhaps the best example of his poke-checking prowess is the fact that he led the team in takeaways with 49. That was three better than the runner-up Bozak, who had 46. To me, that is an indication of his intensity. Grabovski maintains a high level of focus, both offensively and defensively, at all times.
On December 6, 2010, Grabovski scored one of the more spectacular spin-o-rama goals you'll ever see against the Washington Capitals in the shootout.
How could you watch this little gem of a goal and not become an instant fan of the man?
One month to the day after his first spin-o-rama goal, Grabovski does it again—only better. This time it’s against the St. Louis Blues at the ACC.
How can you not root for a guy who puts on a show like that!
He Can Use His Head
Do you remember this goal against the Philadelphia Flyers, when Grabovski scored with his head?
Maybe he couldn’t get out of the way and the goal was accidental, but you must admit this was one of the more inspiring moments for fans of No. 84.
I mean, really, how many guys score with their head in the NHL?
He Takes a Licking
Stunned and stumbling, a lesser man would have remained on the ice or have been carted off on a stretcher. By today’s concussion rules, I don’t believe he would have been allowed to continue.
But continue he did. (See next slide)
And Keeps on Ticking
Capping one of the more memorable games and probably the best performance by Grabovski from last season, the Leaf centre took matters into his own hands.
After being pummeled by Bruins’ captain Zdeno Chara to the point of almost losing consciousness, he won the game for the Leafs with this beauty of a goal—his second of the game.
Grabovski picked the puck up in his own end and skated up ice, beating three defenders, and slotted the game winner home over the shoulder of Boston goalie Tim Thomas with a minute to go in the third period.
As Joe Bowen aptly put it, “Holy Mackinaw! What a goal!”
The No. 1 reason why Grabovski is my favorite Leafs' player is his heart.
You can’t teach heart. You either have it or you don’t.
Grabovski brings it to every play on every shift of every game, night in and night out. His drive to win, his conviction of character, his loyalty and pride—all of these are manifestations of his willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done for his team.
While it’s possible that he could be bundled in a trade for someone with more skill, I highly doubt any player coming back could match his heart. It is his heart that makes him virtually irreplaceable to me. It is his heart that makes him my favorite Leaf.