Cause For Concern?Posted on June 17, 2014 by Adam Stringham
Capitals' General Manger Brian MacLellan had a conference call with the press on Monday to discuss the promotion of Ross Mahoney to assistant general manager; Mahoney has been the Capitals' director of amateur scouting for the past 16 seasons. Some big questions were answered during the call, but the fate of Mikhail Grabovski is yet to be decided. If the Capitals don't re-sign Grabovski
they will likely look for a proven top 6 center in the free agent or trade market.
If this sounds familiar, it's because we heard something not so different from the Capitals last off season. Last July George McPhee announced that the Capitals were happy with Brooks Laich centering the second line.
#Caps GM Brian MacLellan uses Kuznetsov, Johansson and Brooks Laich as possible center replacements if Mikhail Grabovski leaves as a UFA— Brian McNally (@bmcnally14) June 16, 2014
The Capitals have been trying to find a consistent second line center for years. Neither Johansson nor Kuznetsov are strangers to the position, both players were listed as centers at the time of their draft. In recent years Johansson has spent the majority of his time playing on the wing, likely due to a perceived lack of defensive ability. Johansson hasn't shown any real progression over the last couple of seasons, so it's unclear why the organization would be willing to give him a spot they penciled Brooks Laich into last year. Laich hasn't been a member of the Capitals' roster with any consistency over the past couple of seasons, so gambling on him playing a full season is a big risk. Kuznetsov has the potential to be a top 6 center in the NHL, but is he ready to have such a heavy load on his shoulders? Even if Kuznetsov was ready, would he (or any of these other options) be a better fit than Grabovski?
I don't think GMBM understands the head-slappping from Capitals fans upon hearing "look within for No. 2 center" plan.— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) June 16, 2014
I am in agreement with Japers' Rink's Becca H. The Capitals are likely attempting to not appear desperate for Grabovski to return, but in reality they very much are. So don't worry too much.
Yes, Mac is going to say that Johansson, Laich or Kuz could replace Grabo at center if he leaves. No, I don't actually think he believes it.— Becca H (@BeccaH_JR) June 16, 2014