Fantasy Q&A: Grab Grabovski

Matt Larkin
grabovski

After a two-week goalie bonanza, Monday Fantasy Q&A shifts its focus to one of the league’s most polarizing forwards. Few people know what to make of Mikhail Grabovski in real life – Leaf fans didn’t decide to boo him until halfway through the game when he returned to Toronto as a Washington Capital last weekend – and the same is true in fantasy hockey. Should you snap him up if he’s available or will he burn you, like he did during his awful 2012-13 season?

Let’s go to the phones readers.

Where do you feel Mikhail Grabovski’s production will finish? Is 22 points in 27 games a huge illusion? Obviously his shooting percentage will regress.
Sean Van Den Berg (@seanvdb)

While I wouldn’t advise anyone to start a second-line talent like Grabovski over a Matt Duchene or Tyler Seguin, in deeper leagues where you start multiple centers, Grabovski is absolutely worth picking up. For one, lined up against all his other seasons, his 2012-13 is a clear outlier. In a shortened campaign with the pressure of a new contract, ‘Grabo’ averaged 0.33 points per game. The four seasons prior: 0.62, 0.59, 0.72, 0.69. This season he’s back up to 0.81.

Grabovski didn’t click with coach Randy Carlyle in Toronto and he fits coach Adam Oates’ system better. The No. 2 center in Washington under the Oates regime is a highly productive role, as Mike Ribeiro displayed last year. Because Alex Ovechkin plays the point on the power play, the No. 1 center (Nicklas Backstrom) and the No. 2 guy sometimes both end up on the top unit with the man advantage.

Now, I wouldn’t go nuts to get Grabovski, as the shooting percentage is a concern. It’s not just the career high 21.6 percent that scares me. It’s that Grabo is shooting the puck less then ever over the last couple seasons, meaning the goal scoring could fall off the map if the shots stop going in once every five or so attempts.

Long story short: do I think Grabovski is a useful fantasy No. 3 center who can be a 60-point guy all season? Absolutely. But don’t hunt him down on the trade market seeking point-per-game production.

Is it time to lose Pascal Dupuis? Just 13 points in 28 games playing with Crosby is unsettling. 
Good Guy Kevin (@kevincovone)

One of my personal strategies in fantasy hockey is to take talent over situation. I call it the “Nils Ekman rule.” Remember Ekman? He was a fairly ordinary talent who flourished on San Jose’s Jonathan Cheechoo/Joe Thornton line in 2005-06. He ended up in Pittsburgh and I reached on him in a draft because he was “playing with Crosby.” Well, Ekman got booted from the line and I was left with a wasted draft pick.

For that reason, we have to tread carefully with Dupuis. He’s not a bad player at all – versatile, fast, a great team guy and productive on the right line – but he’s not a game-changing talent on his own. And while the Crosby/Kunitz/Dupuis line has lasted a while, Dupuis’ cold streak could get him kicked off the line. It’s a red flag for a guy who never plays on the power play. If your league counts hits and plus-minus, Dupuis is useful enough to hold, but I’d look to trade him in other leagues.

Brandon Dubinsky got dropped. Should I drop Cody Hodgson for him?
Brian (@GrimlockSlag)

No! Don’t discriminate against Hodgson because he plays in Buffalo. The Sabres need him in an offensive role as a top-six centerman who plays on the power play. Dubinsky isn’t head and shoulders above Columbus’ other pivots and thus isn’t guaranteed a scoring role year round. Also, I noticed you asked the question after Dubinksy was placed on the IR. If you were thinking of grabbing him to stash on your IR, go ahead, but I wouldn’t drop Hodgson for him. Even if Hodgson is slumping, he’s the more talented player.

UPDATE: The Blue Jackets just activated Dubinsky. It doesn’t change my advice, however. Stick with Hodgson.

Every Monday, I’ll answer three fantasy questions as best I can. Tweet them to me @THNMattLarkin or write them in the comments below.

Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News’s and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blogFor more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazineFollow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin