Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Is Grabovski a Number One Centre?
Mikhail Grabovski is cleaning up. He is now on pace to better his breakout campain from a year ago in assists and points, in five less games to boot. In my humble opinion, the Leafs would be a much less dangerous team without him, to the point of possibly not being this close to making the playoffs for the first time since before the lockout. But is he good enough to lead a team to the promised land? Read on the find out.
Grabovski, affectionally known as Grabbo from here on out, has been (as @SteveBurtch pointed out to me last night) the Leafs shut down centre this year, playing against the leagues toughest lines, evidenced by his 2nd place standing in Corsi QoC among Leaf forwards playing 20 games or more. What makes this more impressive is the fact that he is 28th in P/60 for forwards playing 20 games or more and 13th for centres. To me, that's a first line centre-man
Not only is Grabbo playing top competition, but he's also dominating them, leading the team in Corsi REL with 13.2. According to many, this doesn't constitute a #1 centre, but these are also the people that think you only have a #1 centre when they score 100+ points, season to season. Grabbo currently has a 0.83 PPG% (point-per-game %) lets see how that compares to the top centres from the past 5 cup winners:
The past two years have seen the top centre from the Stanley Cup winning franchise score less then in years past, this correlates nicely with the GAA coming down every year since the lockout. Grabovski is currently scoring at a pace much like the past two Cup winners' top centres, and playing against tough competition. So what about him isn't good enough to lead a team to the Cup? Why is everyone down on Mikhail?
I'll tell you why. He didn't come into the league as a first round pick, he didn't come into the league and start lighting it up and he sure as hell isn't someone that the NHL markets as a top player (pretty much the prerequisite of being called a top line player in the MSM).
I'm not saying that Grabovski, at the end of their careers, is going to be a better player then Toews or Krejci, I would be an idiot for saying that. But if you gave me one of 2009/10 Toews, 2010/11 Krejci or 2011/12 Grabovski, for only one year, I'm probably taking Grabbo.