Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Why Mikhail Grabovski Hasn't Been (Quite) as Good as Some Think This Season

A lot has been made about how Mikhail Grabovski is already coming back to haunt the Leafs (as many predicted he would).  After all, he does have 13 points in 14 games this season.  But a lot of the numbers people have always used to defend him aren't in his favor this year.  Let's take a quick look:

-He has a PDO of 1075 (the next highest among Washington forwards with 10 or more game played is Jason Chimera at 1029).  This suggests that he's hard-pressed to keep up his current clip of point production.

-He's 3rd worst among Washington forwards who have played 10 games or more with a -5.65 Corsi On and a -5.7 Corsi Rel.  It's important to note that the two forwards on Washington below him in Corsi are Troy Brouwer and Brooks Laich, who are his most frequent line-mates this season (13.22% of even strength time for Washington this season).  At the same time however, Grabovski has still played 10.19% of Washington's even strength time this season with Jason Chimera and Joel Ward who are above him in Corsi numbers.  I should also point out Washington has a 50.1% Corsi For this season, which is pretty solid (Grabovski's Corsi numbers are well below that this year).

-Grabovski has just 19 shots in 14 games this season.  Shots on goal aren't everything and they definitely don't tell the whole story, but being on pace for 111 shots over 82 games isn't good.  Similarly, his 26.3% shooting clip doesn't look good considering his 12.8% career shooting average.

-All this comes with Grabovski's quality of competition and zone starts being a more favorable than last season.  With a 1.152 Corsi Rel QoC and 51.2% offensive zone starts, similar usage numbers to Grabovski's include Claude Giroux, Travis Zajac, and Andrew Cogliano (all who have much better possession numbers than Grabovski - the lowest Corsi Rel among those players is Giroux's 5.6).

-On a similar note, Grabovski has a -6.4 zone finish differential (51.2% offensive zone starts, 44.8% offensive zone finish).  I'm not sure how well-respected that stat really is, but I can tell you the majority of players have a positive zone finish differential.  Grabovski's zone finish differential is last on the Capitals among forwards who've played at least 10 games.

-Grabovski is getting just 27 more seconds per game this season in total ice-time, and just 8 more seconds on the powerplay.

You could say that some factors in Grabovski's usage (his line-mates, his quality of competition, his ice-time) is just another example of coaches misusing him (and it might be), but I don't think its a stretch to say that Grabovski might actually be falling off after the way he produced and was used last year, coupled with how he has produced and has been used this year.  In other words, he's been played a lot more like a grinder the last two seasons.  Again, I'm not saying that he actually will fall off and that this will keep up over a full season, but I don't think the early signs are all that good.  After all, despite his PDO he does have 13 points in 14 games.  It is worrisome though to see a previously dominant advanced stat player struggling in those categories, especially considering Grabovski will be 30 soon - and he has taken a lot of abuse to his body already.  I'm not saying choosing him over Tyler Bozak was the right move for the Leafs either (even at this point it might not have been), but again, I do think there should be some concern about where Grabovski is and where he's headed (at least for the Capitals).  And maybe most importantly I just think people should be aware that his numbers - namely his advanced stat numbers - just aren't all that good, at least not to start the year, especially after the way a lot of people have made it out to seem like Grabovski is already a terrible buyout mistake by the Leafs.  Who knows, maybe the Leafs won't regret missing out on his otherwise $5.5 million cap hit for four more seasons.

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