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|16 февраля 2013 года.
Grabovski given new role: Top-paid Leafs forward accepts less glamorous job on checking line // Toronto Star
Mikhail Grabovski is not scoring like he used to. But then, maybe he's not supposed to.
Grabovski has three goals and three assists through 14 games this season, hardly the kind of production one might expect from the team's highest-paid forward at $5.5 million a year.
But Randy Carlyle hardly uses Grabovski as the team's No. 1 centre - Tyler Bozak has that job.
Instead, Grabovski has found a home with Carlyle - as big a line-matcher as there is in hockey - as the team's No. 1 checking centre.
Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin and whoever is on the other wing - on Friday it was Jay McClement, on Thursday it was Leo Komarov - typically draw the assignment of shutting down the opposing team's top line.
"You'd always like more from your players," said Carlyle, not about to pin the loss in Carolina on Grabovski. "We understand there are times there is more of an assignment given to him on top players."
Grabovski is averaging 17:36 of ice time a game, fifth most among Leaf forwards. (Only the big three - Bozak, Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk - as well as Kulemin average more.)
"I scored goals before," said Grabovski. "Right now, the whole team has one plan: We need to make the playoffs. We'll do what's best for us."
He's second among forwards on the team in average even-strength time on ice (15:24) - and a minus-1, so given he has so few points himself, it means he's doing his job in helping keep the other team's top line off the scoreboard.
He helps his own case by being so good in the faceoff circle. He's ninth in the league in total faceoff wins (140).
He's a mere seventh in power play time (2:08). Not surprisingly, players who are getting more ice time, and especially more power-play time, are outscoring him.
"If it works, it works," said Grabovski. "Right now it's kind of working. Happy for my team."
In other years, a lack of productivity from the team's highest-paid players would be a time for panic. Yet the Leafs have weathered Kessel's prolonged slump and don't see overly worried that Grabovski's offence is down.
In fact, the team - at least when it's fully healthy - seems to be wandering away from the Top 6/Bottom 6 mentality it had under Ron Wilson and Brian Burke.
"The parts are interchangeable," said Carlyle. "We said before we'd move people in and around. A lot of that has to do with past performance and the opposition we're facing."
Credit: Kevin McGran Toronto Star