Toronto Maple Leafs: Is Mikhail Grabovski on the Trade Block?

Jason Ham@@Jason_HamCorrespondent IIJuly 19, 2012

TORONTO, CANADA - MARCH 6: Mikhail Grabovski #84 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates his goal against the Boston Bruins during NHL action at the Air Canada Centre March 6, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Abelimages/Getty Images

For every legitimate rumour posted on Twitter from the likes of Bob McKenzie or Darren Dreger, there are probably about 1,000 fake ones.

Maybe more.

I must confess, I do follow some of the "insider" Twitter accounts out there.  I honestly cannot defend my actions.  I do so purely for entertainment value and I certainly do not take any of it seriously.  But I do find it interesting to read the ideas people come up with regarding the Toronto Maple Leafs.

One such idea that I have not previously seen posted on Twitter, or discussed on B/R, is the claim that Mikhail Grabovski is on the trade block.  This idea was originally tweeted by @InsiderLegit late on Wednesday night, which inspired me to write this article.

I had to read this twice to make sure I wasn't hallucinating.

At first glance, this is an absurd suggestion for a number of reasons.  Grabovski is one of the hardest working players in the league, the ideal type of leader that young Leafs players should look up to, and was just re-signed to a five-year, $27.5 million deal in March 2012.  He is now being paid more than young sniper Phil Kessel.

Simply put, this guy just gets the game.  And he was rewarded for it.

After so recently making such a long-term commitment to Grabovski, my first instincts tell me that Brian Burke would not ship him out of town.  However, I have started to question that notion.  Luke Schenn was deemed untouchable such a short time ago, and was signed to his own long-term extension, yet he was shipped out of town following the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

We all read the stories about how highly Burke thought of Schenn and I'm sure he holds Grabovski in the same high regard.  However, given the monumental failure that is his tenure as Toronto's GM thus far, I think it is safe to say that nobody on the Leafs' roster can be deemed untouchable.  Unlike most, I would even include Jake Gardiner in that sweeping statement.

But that's another story for another day.

In the meantime, while the emotionally attached part of my brain does not want to see Grabovski shipped out of town having barely had time to mourn the loss of Schenn, the colder, more calculating side of my brain has already started to consider what Grabovski might fetch as the centerpiece in a deal.  Stupid, objective, "rational" brain.

Is Grabovski the piece needed to bring a No. 1 centerman to Toronto?

Not on his own, of course.  Some may argue he is overpaid, but given the size of some of the contracts signed in recent memory, $5.5 million per year is a bargain for a player capable of easily 60-70 points per year, with a ceiling much higher than that with the proper linemates. 

And given the possibility that contracts may be limited to five years in length as a result of the new CBA negotiations, teams can feel safe in acquiring Grabo without being punished for having a contract in violation of collectively bargained rules.

Twitter has also supplied Leafs fans starved for news in a slow summer with the suggestion that Burke is targeting Ryan Getzlaf as his No. 1 centerman.  When he arrived in Toronto in 2008, Burke stated to the media that he attempted to acquire Grabovski when he was in Anaheim. 

Burke may have left the Ducks in the hands of GM Bob Murray, but it would not be unreasonable to assume that there remain some employees from the Burke era in Anaheim who still think highly of the young Toronto centerman.

If so, it is feasible the Belarusian could be traded in a package to Anaheim for Ryan Getzlaf.  No other Leafs forwards have the value that Grabovski has right now, except for Phil Kessel.  And the entire point of bringing in a No. 1 centerman is to find the right man for Kessel, so he's not going anywhere in this scenario.

What else would Anaheim want in a deal?  Using the Jordan Staal trade as a comparable, I think it would be reasonable to offer:

To Anaheim: Mikhail Grabovski, Cody Franson or Jesse Blacker, and a first-round pick.

To Toronto: Ryan Getzlaf

It may not be enough.  I would not want to include Nazem Kadri in this deal as I feel as though he is poised to have a solid, full season in the NHL.  The trade follows the Staal formula with a roster player, prospect, and a first-rounder, so really, the prospect that is included could be the sticking point in this trade proposal.

Would Burke go as far as to include Kadri in place of Franson or Blacker?  Korbinian Holzer?  Joe Colborne?  Tyler Biggs?

Regardless, I think the structure of this deal is realistic and could be the type of trade that brings a No. 1 center to Toronto for the first time since Mats Sundin's departure.

Thanks for reading!

Be sure to follow Jason on Twitter @Jason_Ham


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