February 1, 2012
Grabovski's agent in T.O.
By LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Gary Greenstin, the California-based agent for Mikhail Grabovski, is in town — and it’s not to mark Groundhog Day.
Amid heightened speculation of what the Maple Leafs will do with Grabovski, their red-hot impending unrestricted free agent centre, Greenstin could be here to talk about the same kind of extension the Leafs gave defenceman John-Michael Liles last week.
Greenstin met the Leafs twice in Calgary during the world junior tournament. Asked if the visit with his clients (he also represents winger Nikolai Kulemin) would include a talk with general manager Brian Burke, Greenstin chose his words carefully.
“You’ll see,” Greenstin said. “I usually don’t make comments during negotiations. But I will say that Mikhail loves Toronto and the organization and would like to stay.
“Brian Burke has to do the best for the team. I have to do the best for my player. Right now, the best for my player is to stay with the Leafs.”
A source said a meeting had not taken place as of Wednesday, but noted Burke’s tone was very encouraging a week ago when a possible Grabovski trade came up in a chat with reporters on Long Island.
“We’re not even close to that,” Burke said that night. “That (UFA status) will be a factor, but I accept unrestricted guys, too, if they can help us get to where we want to get.
“I stuck with Ruslan Salei in Anaheim, because I thought he was what we needed to make the playoffs and make some noise. And he was great for us (when the Ducks won the Cup in 2007). There is no automatic rule that if a guy is unrestricted that I’m shipping him out.”
As well as impressing the Leafs with his play — seven points in two games before Wednesday and 17 points with linemates Kulemin and Clarke MacArthur — he marked his 28th birthday this week with a new-found maturity after growing pains on and off the ice. Grabovski’s deal this year pays him $2.9 million US.
“I’m very proud of this young man,” Greenstin said. “He’s a professional hockey player and he’s a great player. He has family here. He would love to stay in Toronto.
“He has great chemistry with Nikolai.”
A restricted free agent, Kulemin is also coming up for a new contract, but where Grabovski could beat last year’s career high of 58 points, Kulemin is far behind his pace of 2010-11.