Grabovski and Kulemin can be really good, if Islanders do the opposite of what Toronto did

Kevin Schultz

The Islanders looked like they were done in free agency - well the GM said as much, anyway – but they were clearly not done, when they signed Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin to four-year contracts for lots of dollars – the same dollars that had probably been earmarked for Thomas Vanek.

This move is good — Grabovski was on pace for 50 points last year in Washington — and adds some serious forward depth to the Islanders. I would be sweating right now if I was Colin McDonald or anyone else who could be in the Islanders bottom six. There are now 16 forwards projected for the Islanders roster, which if you’re scoring at home is four more than they are allowed to ice in a game. And it’ll be interesting to see how that pans out too, as the Islanders are not a team that likes to risk players to waivers.

But what will be interesting to watch is how, and if, Grabovski (or Grabbo for short) and Kulemin can recapture some of the magic they had with Toronto before the Leafs front office started thinking they were smarter than everyone else and torpedoed the whole thing.

The season was 2010-11, and the Leafs had one of the better second lines in the entire league as Grabbo centered a line with Kulemin and Clarke MacArthur on the wings. Grabbo hits a career high 29 goals and 58 points, Kulemin goes 30 and 57 and MacArthur has 21 and 62. 80 goals between the trio. The following season they combine for 50 goals, still solid, but the Leafs are on pace to miss the playoffs for the seventh straight year so coach Ron Wilson gets fired and Randy Carlyle gets hired.

If you know anything about Carlyle’s leafs, it should be that they get outshot by opponents like all hell. In 2012-13, the lockout shortened season and Carlyle’s first full season as coach, everything gets more defensive minded and the goal-scoring trio are played in more defensive roles.

It does not work. At all. They combine for 24 goals in the lockout season.

After that, Clarke MacArthur becomes a free agent and leaves for Ottawa, where he scores 55 points in the full season as opposed to 20 in the lockout shortened one. And the Leafs use one of their compliance buyouts to remove Grabbo from the roster, a move which needs no further explanation than the following blogs posts. Here’s one from Leafs Nation: Stupid Team Makes Stupid Move — Second Best Player to Be Bought Out. And this one from Pension Plan Puppets with the subtitle: The Leafs have bought out their best center because they are run by morons. 

During the summer of 2012, Grabbo got a five-year, $27.5 million extension. One year later, the Leafs were buying him out. They used the extra money on David Clarkson and Tyler Bozak, which is really a hilariously bad decision, and maybe made with a dash of some xenophobia (here’s a TSN story calling Grabovski enigmatic, which is pretty much stamped on Europeans around the NHL an awful lot) and a whole lot of player and coach not fitting together. The demotion and defensive role from Carlyle bothered Grabovski who, after being bought out, ripped his former coach on the radio on his way out.

That summer, Grabovski got picked up by the Capitals after the buyout and, lo and behold, bounced back for 35 points in 58 games (pace of 50 points over a full 82) after only putting up 16 in the lockout year. It put him back in the area of production that he had pre-Carlyle and pre-lockout in Toronto.

Now, the Islanders have reunited Grabovski and Kulemin, overpaying for the latter and probably in the vicinity of the market for the former. They’ve also promised to have them play on the same line as the pair are good friends and were negotiating themselves as a package deal in free agency. Here, we’ll give you exactly what you want and you come here and try and get back to working your magic. 

It’s a worthwhile gamble for the Islanders who can afford the cap hit — hell, needed to get to the floor —  and have space on the bottom lines to bump some players down (looking at McDonald/Martin/etc). It also makes some of those 16 forwards available for trade to acquire a defender.

In a decent scenario, you hope for 60 points between the two players. If it works out really well, you add two more 20-goal scorers to the roster. Or better. Just don’t make the same mistake Toronto did of using them in a defensive role. It’s not what they do.




297 comments
jmoney93
jmoney93

look in terms of a trade you are not going to get something for nothing, in fact if your the isles  you probably have to overpay a little .. here is what i would purpose to Winnipeg    one of our fwd prospects Dal Colle Lee Stome or Nelson  as well as Bailey, Donovan or Mayfield and either pedan or Pullock.... leaving only Pokke and Grif out the mix  ..for Kane -23yr old NHL PROVEN 30 goal scorer and locked up for a term and Bogosian also proven young and locked up .... You have to send a lot to get a lot 

Wc Christopher
Wc Christopher

How about a pick or Ness for Scuderi too. Subtract Bailey, Donovan, and Ness.  Add Phaneuf and Scuderi.

Wc Christopher
Wc Christopher

Trade Bailey and Donovan to Toronto for Phaneuf and we take his entire salary/contract. There's your top 4 D man. Another possible trade would require giving up a lot more. That's trading for Kane and Bogosian. Perhaps Grabner, Lee, Donovan and Pullock?

doc942
doc942

I listened to the Snow interview on the WFAN this afternoon and though Snow handled himself well.  Had a sense of humor, said he wasn't going to trade the guys that it would take to get an elite defender etc.  

willymayshays
willymayshays

I just don't get it!  I want better defense too, but trading Frans and Grabs?  Those ARE our top 2 defenders on the team!  Frans is just too valuable to lose.    I just don't get the fans who would be willing to let him go.    I would trade him for an Elite defender, but elite defenders are kept, not traded, ever.  (Close to it anyway)  You will get a decent defender for Frans, yes, but Frans is better than that.  Keep Grabs and Nielson.  Trade something much smaller for a decent (over the hill) defender who is more of a teacher than a player in his prime.  the key is getting Reinhart and Pokka to be what is nearly impossible to get any other way BUT homegrown.  Sure it's a gamble, but it's the only way.    You'd be a fool to disagree that de Haan was anything but great last yr.  He was a 1st rd gamble.  


1 vet defender that will not cost too much + Hammer + de Haan +Reinhart + Hickey= better than anything we've had in a LONG time.  It could get much better later on with what we have in BP.  


Lets not blow up what's working, lets add, no subtracting!  Sick of 1 step forward 2 steps back.


chrisredux
chrisredux

heres a little off topic tidbit.. So Im sitting here watching the Howard Stern Birthday bash and who do I see in the audience? Garry Bettman..It was a weird sight...at about 21 mins in when jeff probst talks to Barbara walters you can see him behind her....

jepliberty
jepliberty

Anaheim Ducks get Nick Ritchie, drat.

Macacawitz
Macacawitz

I'd try to pry a defenseman from the Sens in exchange for a forward.  We need more of a physical presence on the backline, preferably in the form of someone trustworthy enough to play a regular shift. 

erika
erika

Do NOT trade Grabner or Nielson. While I'm glad we did SOMETHING in free agency, bottom line is we HAD to! Grabs is the fastest skater in the NHL, and is good for a breakaway every other time he is on the penalty kill...even if he doesn't score, that is less time the PP team has the puck. Nielson is the sole reason why our OT record is decent. That's good for an extra 8-10 points a season...just enough to make the playoffs!  McDonald, bailey..expendable. As is Donovan and quite a few others. We also have some assets built up, no? If we can't make a trade, then just see what Reinhart and pullock can do. 

On another note, I love the draft picks! Del Colle is talanted and has loads of character. Ho Sang has amazing moves...I could care less if he is outspoken and arrogant, I just hope he can become disciplined enough to play in the NHL, and that he does not turn out to be like Kabanov...where is he anyway?? And where is Petrov? Wasn't he eligible to come in 2012-13? Anyway, my point is that the grass is not always greener on the other side, and our new additions are not better than Grabs and Neilson..but they could very well compliment them!

willymayshays
willymayshays

3 questions I'd ask:

1- if "rebuilding" is the term that best describes all of the losing seasons, why is the scouting dept half the size of most other NHL org.'s 

2- What about development and what  is it about Cappy that makes you think he's the guy to work with so many young players

3- Are you planing on moving some of the forwards currently on the roster?  (Frans, Grabner or one of the kids)  And do think Bailey needs a new environment.  Do you think Brock and Strome will be playing wing or center...  Where or how do they all fit

chrisredux
chrisredux

yea napping you nap on the job all the time

chrisredux
chrisredux

hey wang pay the cell phone bill

chrisredux
chrisredux

so forget about a top D man fellas

bossytom
bossytom

I'm curious why most of you would want clutter buck on the 4th line? He scored I believe 12 or 13 goals and missed close to 10 games..

Lee-jt-ko

Strome - mg - kulaks

Cal-Nelson- grabber

Martin-cc-McDonald

Extras: conancher

Trade bait -Nielsen, Bailey, Donovan to land top 4 dman

bossytom
bossytom

Agreed you have to give to get.. I'm abit scared of Kane. He has baggage. What about Kyle OPosko & frans and Donovan for sharpe and seabrook...

slapshot18_rs
slapshot18_rs

again, bailey + donovan is not nearly enough to get phaneuf. 

Chris Retzlaff
Chris Retzlaff

@doc942 I agree with your take on Garth. Bottom line, we as fans know nothing about him, his thought process etc.  I think if he makes himself available to media, it would help suppress the constant negativity of the fan base.  I also hope that WFAN carries them and drops the devils.

Chris Retzlaff
Chris Retzlaff

@willymayshays Lets not Forget about this kid Brennan, we know the Leafs are run poorly, probably as bad as the Yanks of the mid-late 80"s, He could be a gem and Boyle minus 13 years...

slapshot18_rs
slapshot18_rs

@willymayshays i agree to an extent.  i want to keep both grabner and frans. the point i was trying to make earlier is if you're going to get someone thats worth trading for, these are the pieces that will get better talent.  im sorry, but bailey is not going to bring in a top 4 guy right now, yet every proposal on here, bailey is the centerpiece.  it makes no sense.  


but if the return is not worth it, theres no reason to trade either of those guys.  theyre very valuable to this team for atleast two more years.

chrisredux
chrisredux

@willymayshays i agree till your statement.."Lets not blow up whats working" Whats working?? The D needs major help.

slapshot18_rs
slapshot18_rs

@jepliberty lol a little late on that but yeah. imagine having to face a line of ritchie getzlaf and perry.  thats a big powerful line on paper if ritchie progresses like hes supposed to 

chrisredux
chrisredux

@erika less time the PP team has the puck? what? 3 seconds it takes grabs to skate to goalie..hahahahaha

mets8669
mets8669

@erika  u have to trade either nielson or grabner as they will be the only ones who might net you a real top end d-man....if we don't want bailey and McDonald other teams are going to be ready to take on that garbage either. Nielson is gone as he would be a nice piece when trying to  net a real NHL d-man. As I would love to see him stay as anyone else would at the same time he is the most expendable piece given his value to other teams. While I like grabner he is fast but that is all. I love breakaways but they mean nothing when u shoot it into the goalies chest. Not saying hes a bad player but if he left and we added defense we would all live.


Bottom Line make the playoffs and win a round  for once !

Don22
Don22

@willymayshays Willy - did you call in to the show about 1/2 hour after the interview?  A guy asked the same question about the scouts!

willymayshays
willymayshays


But I loved how Joe asked his question about the Vanek trade 'Did you really think you had a shot of keeping him, what was the thinking there? 


I mean COME ON Bro!

Don22
Don22

@orange2327 The Garth Snow Show?  It will be almost as entertaining as Heals and Flats. 

Don22
Don22

@chrisredux Yeah.  But what he said really is true - those top D guys don't just shake loose.  The best one possible seems to be Phaneuf, and I think most of us agree we don't really want him here.


Ajay Gill
Ajay Gill

Brock-JT-KO

Lee-Grabo-Kule

Grabs-Frans-Strome

Z-Conacher-Ca

Martin (scratch, slides to LW when conacher fails and Z back to C)

McDonald,Boulton (waivers hopefully the clear and play @ the bridge)

Bailey (trade in package with no Griffin, Pokka) for 2nd pair D

Hopefully lee can play MacArthur and lite a fire on that line, Nelson should suffice with 20 on top line. Depth down middle is solid. Strome stays on R will steadily improve.

2nd and 3 rd lines can insulate each other and check top lines whilst having scoring threat. Let JT line do their thing score and score.

Goaltending looks best in years and with a solid 3 defender can get by until either the kids or even Donovan/DeHann turn it up well have a solid top 4 with ample 3rd pairing.

Thoughts?

Don22
Don22

@bossytom Well, if you have JT-OK-Nelson on 1st, Grabbo-Kulemin-Bailey on 2nd, Strome-Lee-Grabner on 3rd then your 4th can be CZ-Martin-Clutter.  


I'm not saying that should be the lines, but if he does to 3rd line who drops to 4th?  Of course if you lose Bailey and/or Franz then he can fit in the 3rd line, but IMO you don't trade Franz unless you can get a top D man back.  He is very important to this team.

Don22
Don22

@chrisredux Reminds me of Bobby Valentine.  He just has that voice that sounds pompous and condescending, even if he doesn't mean to be.

dzruggie
dzruggie

@slapshot18_rs How about Boulton and Pedan and the #2 next year for Maulkin?  lol  It is unbelievable that day after day you see these trades posted.  It is exhausting just reading them lol 

willymayshays
willymayshays

@chrisredux @willymayshays


what is working... not that everything works.

myisles72
myisles72

Grabner is an awesome penalty killer. Don't diminish that. His speed is a constant threat that power plays have to be concerned with.

willymayshays
willymayshays

@Don22 @chrisredux 

Exactly, hard to get around that truth.  That's why we have to stop even thinking about trading guys like Reinhart or Pokka.  We have to be patient.  It's too bad we didn't guys like them a long time ago, but nothing you can do about it now.

bossytom
bossytom

Why would you want to stick strome on the third line? He much more suited for the second line. In order to get get a good dman, you must give up something frans has value - he has skill and is cheap in terms of his contract ...

Don22
Don22

@willymayshays @Don22 @chrisredux That's not to say the should't try.  Even if they can get a veteran who has some leadership qualities that can be a 3rd pair guy.  To be honest, I like Strait to a certain degree because he plays a simple, stay at home game. But he can be easily upgraded.

Ajay Gill
Ajay Gill

I hear ya Strome needs mins but this 3rd line is a second line last year if ice time is even. Strome def has to be on the right side , shot and all we are packed on the left so unless Nielsen is moved and Brock is c then you move lee from line 2. Grabo and Kule are lock to play together. Return on package with Frans won't fetch a top d unless one of Strome/Brock and plus maybe another top d prospect included, price too high considering we can manufacture a d in the next season with the plethora of bodies in the system. Having a 3rd line like this gives us scoring all around which we really need to help on matchups especially on the road. If Strome was a lefty I'd consider him in top line instead of Nelson. Already moving these guys out of their natural position of C so at least keep them on their natural wing. Kule and Grabo are lefty too so we need someone other than KO right handed on that side. Or just flip the second and 3rd lines it's a moot point on paper if they have even ice time and rotate checking top lines as both Grabo and Frans can do np. So you have line 1 2-b 2-b or being an optimist 1 2-2. No matter how you slice or dice it we have depth and 3 lines and should keep the kids balanced with vets. Again so drop lee for Strome and move kule to LW but Lee fits the MacArthur mould that worked for Grabo and mule in TO so give it a shot! Kule helps although he's struggles in his role lately he plays off wing well

chrisredux
chrisredux

@orange2327 yea the infamous "SKILL SET" 

Don22
Don22

@orange2327 Every time I heard Valentine talk I felt like I wanted to smack him.  Even if he was saying something nice.  LOL.