Update, 4:03 p.m.: Earlier today the Capitals thought that they would have their key offseason acquisition in training camp Sunday but apparently they’ll need to wait a few more days.
Mikhail Grabovski’s visa issues still aren’t completely cleared up, according to a team spokesman. So after he meets with the team in Belleville, Ontario, Saturday Grabovski will remain in Toronto and is scheduled for a meeting at the United States consulate on Monday. The team hopes that will be the final holdup of Grabovski’s arrival in Washington.
Mikhail Grabovski’s visa issues have been resolved and the center is expected to practice with the team at KCI on Sunday. He’ll also be in attendance at the team’s preseason opener Saturday in Belleville, Ontario, against the Winnipeg Jets, but he won’t play.
Considering that Grabovski is the only truly new player expected to make the Capitals’ opening night roster, Coach Adam Oates and the rest of his new teammates are eager to have him join the group.
“I feel for him because obviously he wants to be here, he doesn’t want to get off on the wrong foot, get some reps and see the guys,” Oates said. “A lot of people don’t understand walking into a locker room is a tough thing, going to a new team is not an easy thing. You want to settle in and have as much time to do that as possible.”
Ask just about any player and they’ll tell you they touched base with a former teammate of Grabovski’s to get the scoop on their new center, and each heard only positive reviews.
“I think he’s going to bring a lot to our line, a lot to our team. He’s got that great skillset, sees the ice well, skates really well,” said Troy Brouwer, who will line up alongside Grabovski on the second line. “I’ve talked to guys who played with him on the Leafs for a few years and they liked him as a teammate, they liked him as a player. I think with him it was just butting heads with the coaches, there saying that’s all the problem was.”
Oates is looking forward to seeing what Grabovski can accomplish with the Capitals. Sure, he will be filling the spot that Mike Ribeiro held last year, but Grabovski is a different player with different attributes. Among them is Grabovski’s willingness to go to the corners and in front of the net.
“He’s a tough kid, goes to tough territories, he’s not a huge man but he goes to territories where you have to go to score goals. He’s got the vision, the European player vision where he can see all the guys and he knows what to do,” Oates said. “We don’t want to put too much pressure on him but I’m sure he’s very motivated he’s not happy with what happened to him at the end of the year and we’re just looking for him to play good hockey for us.”
>> The players in Group A will be making the trip for the preseason opener.
>> Brooks Laich, who is day to day with a left hip flexor injury, did not skate on Friday. He is making the trip with the team to Ontario, but will not play against the Jets.