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but Laich shovelled the rebound

  • Aug 12
    The New York Islanders made a surprise move, re-uniting a pair of linemates with big free agent contracts. [b]Maurice Richard Canadiens Jersey[/b] . Numbers Game looks into the Islanders getting Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin. The Islanders Get: C Mikhail Grabovski and LW Nikolai Kulemin. Grabovski, 30, has been a productive centre, scoring 160 points in 261 games over the past four seasons, which ranks 98th among NHL forwards. While that alone is a decent indication of Grabovskis ability to contribute as a second-line centre, hes put up terrific relative possession numbers in four of the last five seasons, the only exception being in 2012-2013 with the Toronto Maple Leafs, when he was effectively buried in a defensive role. That led to his being bought out by the Maple Leafs in one of the more ridiculous decisions in the history of NHL contract buyouts. One year after he was bought out by the Maple Leafs and could only drum up enough interest to secure a one-year, $3-million deal as a free agent, Grabovski signed for four years and $20-million with the Isles. Going to the Islanders should offer Grabovski an opportunity to get favourable matchups, with zone starts tilted towards the offensive zone and softer opposition while opponents send their best at John Tavares line and the Islanders put Frans Nielsens line out for the toughest defensive assignments. Grabovski has scored 20 or more goals three times and topped 50 points twice. His career points per game of 0.59 works out to 48 points over an 82-game schedule, so maybe something around a 50-point season is the best-case scenario, but if Grabovski can put up between 40 and 50 points with typically strong possession stats over the course of his contract, he will be a solid addition for the Islanders. Grabovskis departure from Washington leaves a hole at second-line centre, one that still needs to be filled, unless Marcus Johansson or Evgeny Kuznetsov fit into that spot. Kulemin is a 27-year-old winger who scored 30 goals and 57 points riding shotgun with Grabovski for the Maple Leafs in 2010-2011, but has failed to generate much offence since, scoring 23 goals and 71 points in 188 games. But, to be fair, Kulemin has been stuck in a defensive role for the past couple seasons, with primarily defensive zone starts against quality opposition. While Kulemin hasnt scored a bunch in the NHL, particularly recently, hes produced enough to believe that there is more offence to be uncovered. He has 11 points in 20 games for Russia at the past two World Championships and 38 points in 36 KHL games while playing alongside Evgeni Malkin, so its not like Kulemin cant find his way around the offensive zone, but he likely needs a centre that will be the creator offensively. With the expectation that Kulemin will skate with Grabovski, he too should benefit from more offensive zone starts and favourable matchups. Maybe that results in Kulemin scoring 35-to-40 points (that 57-point season in 2010-2011 sure appears to be an aberration) and if that comes with solid two-way play then, even at his lofty price, Kulemin can be a worthy acquisition for the Isles. Toronto didnt seem to be in position to pay Kulemin, and they shouldnt have, based on how he was being used. Wingers that are deployed like Kulemin dont tend to get paid. Kulemins contract also runs for four years, paying him $16.75-million, which is a lot given his recent production, but if he gets more of an offensive opportunity, Kulemin has a decent shot at producing enough offensively to justify that price, which is fair for a second-line winger. All in all, this is an aggressive move by the Islanders and suddenly gives them terrific depth up front. So much that they likely need to find room on the wing for young guns like Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome, but its an enviable problem to have so much talent that some of your centres need to find room to play on the wing. Their defence can still get better, but these signings put the Islanders into the mix among playoff contenders for next season. Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook. [b]Joel Armia Jersey[/b] . - Titans quarterback Jake Locker will miss the rest of the season with a Lisfranc injury to his right foot, leaving Tennessee trying to rally with Ryan Fitzpatrick. [b]Jeff Petry Canadiens Jersey[/b] . - Urijah (The California Kid) Faber finds himself in an unaccustomed position Saturday night at UFC 175 — on the preliminary card. WASHINGTON -- With Washington off to a 2-5 start, coach Adam Oates made some changes before the Capitals game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night. Martin Erat wasted little time in making the adjustments pay off. The right wing, moved from the fourth line to the second, assisted on three Washington goals and Braden Holtby made 37 saves in the Capitals 4-1 win. Erat helped out on goals by new linemates Troy Brouwer and Brooks Laich, as well as on a power-play tally by Alex Ovechkin. "He was flying tonight," Ovechkin said of Erat. "He was the best player on the ice for us tonight. He shows who he is." Joel Ward opened the scoring with a power-play goal for the Capitals, who snapped a two-game skid and finished their five-game homestand 2-3. Coming off a 2-0 shutout Thursday against the Rangers, Oates dropped Mikhail Grabovski from the second line to the third and Eric Fehr from the third line to a part-time role on the fourth. Laich centred the second line, with Erat moving onto that group. "You know what, Martys a good hockey player, has been in this league," Oates said of Erat, a veteran who was acquired last year from Nashville but began the season on the fourth line and was scoreless coming in. "We lost a couple in a row, we had to make some changes, and he stepped in there and played great for us." Erat began play with 53 points in 57 regular-season games against Columbus, his highest point total against any team, and continued to punish the Blue Jackets. Afterward, he preferred to discuss the win rather than his increased ice time and performance. "Its nice to have a good game, but in the end its all about the wins, and we got the win and that is the bottom line," he said. Artem Anisimov spoiled Holtbys shutout at 15:05 of the third. "You can see how we play when he is on fire," Ovechkin said of Holtby. "We have a lot of confidence, especially when he makes a big save and we can see he feels the puck." Sergei Bobrovsky had 35 saves for the Blue Jackets, who have lost four straight. "We unraveled," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "I think even after those first two goals, we sttarted to go after them, but we werent good enough. [b]Phillip Danault Jersey[/b]. We got what we deserved. I think the chances were there." Washington went up 1-0 early in the second period thanks to its top-ranked power play. With the Blue Jackets Brandon Dubinsky off for tripping, Marcus Johansson made a nice pass in front to Ward, who one-timed it past Bobrovsky for his second goal of the year. Columbus peppered Holtby for several minutes to no avail. Then Washingtons Steve Olesky came down the right side and made a nice delaying move to get his shot off. Bobrovsky made the stop, but Laich shovelled the rebound home to make it 2-0 at the 7:43. Washington added some insurance in the third when Erat stole a pass in the Columbus zone and fed Brouwer in front. Bobrovsky made a point-blank save, but Brouwer got the rebound, moved to his right and put the puck past the fallen goaltender at 4:20. "They got that third (goal) and it just cracked us, I guess," Blue Jackets RJ Umberger said. "We turned the puck over. They capitalized on their chances tonight and we didnt." Just over two minutes later, with Washington on a power play, Ovechkin beat Bobrovsky with a one-timer from his familiar spot in the left circle for his seventh goal of the season. "As far as the third period, were letting each other down as far as our play in front of our goalie," Richards said. "Disappointing the way the game ended." The Capitals controlled play for much of a scoreless first period, when Bobrovsky made 14 saves. Columbus had an excellent chance when Ryan Johansen picked up a loose puck in the Washington zone midway through the period. He skated in alone on Holtby, but his shot hit the right post. NOTES: The Blue Jackets recalled F Jack Skille from the AHLs Springfield Falcons and assigned F Sean Collins to their AHL affiliate. ... Washington D John Erskine missed his fourth game (upper body injury) and C Jay Beagle was a healthy scratch. ... LW Nick Foligno, C Ryan Craig, and D Dalton Prout were the Columbus scratches. ... It was the teams first meeting since Dec. 31, 2011. Theyll play each other three more times this season as members of the Metropolitan Division. ' ' '