The Islanders gathered for the start of their 2016 training camp today and a piece of sad news has already surfaced from beyond the uniform fittings and photo taking.
Per a tweet from Newsday’s Arthur Staple, center Mikhail Grabovski has not been medically cleared to start camp.
Mikhail Grabovski won't speak to the media here today, not cleared due to concussion symptoms. Also not cleared to skate.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) September 22, 2016
Staple had previously reported last week that Grabovski had been around practice at Ice Works, working out in the gym. Clearly not enough has changed in his status over the last week to make him eligible for camp.
#Isles asst coach/GM Doug Weight said Grabovski still undergoing medical exam but "I don't think we'll be surprised by results."— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) September 22, 2016
We discussed Grabovski’s health issues much earlier this summer. He remains a useful, skilled player when on the ice, which has been all too rare in his two years with the Islanders. He’s suffered three concussions - two in 2014-15 and one last season - and he is still hampered by the effects of those head injuries. Both the Islanders and Grabovski can and should take all the time they need to treat the symptoms that will take (and probably already have taken) a toll on his life off the ice.
There’s also the issue of his $5 million cap hit, which has become more of a concern as the team creeps closer to the top of the cap. The Islanders currently have $2.3 million in salary cap space (per General Fanager’s roster projection), and the number is re-calculated daily throughout the season. That means that Long Term Injured Reserve might not be an option because the cap flexibility it brings wouldn’t be needed.
And, just as a friendly reminder: an injured player cannot be bought out.
Not being cleared for camp doesn’t mean Grabovski’s season or career are over. But it’s a crappy way to kick off a new season. Let’s celebrate his many talents and hope he gets back on the ice and playing again as soon as it’s safe.