Center Mikhail Grabovski plans to test the waters of free agency when it begins Tuesday at 12 p.m., his agent Gary Greenstin confirmed.
“We will test the market,” he said via telephone.
Though Grabovski acquitted himself well with the Capitals after coming on a one-year deal worth $3 million, leading all forwards who played at least 50 games in Corsi-for percentage, Washington general manager Brian MacLellan has been vocal about his priorities this offseason, chief among them a top-four defenseman and a backup goaltender behind Braden Holtby. Grabovski’s camp understands this, and Greenstin estimated that “around a dozen teams” have expressed interest, without getting into specifics.
“Some teams more serious, some teams have just [been] talking,” Greenstin said. “We’ll see what’s happening.”
The Capitals and Grabovski had begun discussing terms for a new contract back in January with assistant general manager Don Fishman, but that was under the tenure of since-fired general manager George McPhee. Grabovski was excelling at the time, among the team leaders in points behind Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, and filled a gaping hole as the second-line center, a position at which the Capitals have struggled to find consistent production in recent seasons. At the time, Grabovski expressed a desire to “stay with one team and help them.”
“Most likely he’ll stay here,” Greenstin said at the time. But as Washington made its offseason desires clear and the free agency interview window revealed interest in Grabovski, it makes sense from the 30-year-old’s perspective that he would test the market. Reports have indicated he is seeking a multi-year deal worth in the neighborhood of $5 million, but Greenstin declined to comment on desired terms.
“One of the best playmakers on the market,” Greenstin said of his client. “He’s in his golden age.”
Asked whether the Capitals were still a possibility, Greenstin replied, “Everything is possible.”
But MacLellan has expressed his confidence in in-house options like Brooks Laich, Marcus Johansson and Evgeny Kuznetsov to transition into a second-line center role.
The news of Grabovski’s plans was first reported by Chris Johnston of Rogers SportsNet, who tweeted that the Capitals “decided not to meet his price.”