ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals opened training camp Thursday with 69 players taking part, but center Mikhail Grabovski was not among them.
Grabovski, who signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Capitals in August, remains in Toronto waiting for a work visa issue to be resolved.
“We can’t seem to put our finger on what’s going on up there,” said general manager George McPhee.
“But hopefully it’s another day or two at the most and we’ll have him.”
According to a team spokesman, Grabovski will join the Capitals as soon as possible but there is no timetable for his arrival. The 29-year-old is expected to begin the season as the Capitals’ second line center- a position which was filled last year by Mike Ribeiro.
“He’s been a good centerman in this League and we lost a good centerman,” said head coach Adam Oates.
“So we’re hoping that he fills that role. He also fits into our puzzle and I talked to him about that. Obviously it’s a shame that he’s not here, but I’m sure that he’s very motivated.”
Prior to his signing with the Capitals, Grabovski spent five seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Belarusian had career highs of 29 goals and 58 points in 2010-11 but was limited to 16 points in 48 games last season.
Grabovski did not feel that he was put in a position to succeed under Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle who played Grabovski primarily on the team’s third and fourth lines. The Maple Leafs bought out the final four years of Grabovski’s contract in July but the Capitals are hopeful that he will be an effective top six forward and a fixture on the club’s power play.
“He’s going to bring a different element,” said Brooks Laich, who could begin the season on a line with Grabovski and Troy Brouwer.
“We’ve got a lot of speed on the wings but last year I don’t think that we had a lot of pure speed up the middle and he’ll bring that. He’s a guy that goes to the gritty areas