Concussions and related issues have plagued New York Islanders winger Mikhail Grabovski for the past two seasons, and it appears the 2016-17 campaign won’t be any different.
Ahead of Islanders training camp, the team announced that Grabovski, 32, will not be participating due to concussion symptoms, and it doesn’t sound good. According to Newsday’s Arthur Staple, Grabovski was in New York to undergo testing Thursday ahead of training camp, and after undergoing “physical and neurological exams” the Islanders have declared that Grabovski isn’t even cleared to skate, let alone suit up come high-pace on-ice sessions.
But there could be even worse news coming. According to Staple, Grabovski’s “career is in doubt.”
Over the past two seasons, Grabovski has had to miss almost half of the Islanders’ games with various injuries, but most of his ailments have been related to his head, and Grabovski’s serious battle with concussions began early in the 2014-15 season.
In an October 2014 game, Grabovski was decked by then-San Jose Sharks winger John Scott. When Scott caught Grabovski with an open-ice hit, his head appeared to slam off the ice as he went down from the impact and Grabovski remained prone on the ice for several moments until being helped off the ice by training staff.
Grabovski only missed three games, but later in the season another blow caused the Islanders winger to be sidelined for another 27 games, including the first four games of New York’s post-season run.
By the time the 2015-16 season rolled around, Grabovski was again back in action and able to suit up to start the campaign. However, by February, Grabovski had suffered another concussion, this one the scariest yet. During a game against the Nashville Predators, Grabovski was checked by Eric Nystrom, fell backwards and slammed his head off the ice. A stretcher would be brought out for Grabovski, but before he could be placed on the backboard, he got to his feet and skated off the ice under his own power.
He would eventually return nine games later and suit up for one contest against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He skated 17 minutes in that outing, but it was his final game of the season and may very well have been the last game he plays this calendar year. He missed the final 13 regular season games and all 11 post-season contests in 2015-16.
The Islanders have in no way said that Grabovski will be out for the remainder of the season, but that he’s still dealing with symptoms — and not even cleared to skate — after more than six months on the shelf is worrisome. He still has two years and $10 million remaining on his four-year, $20-million deal he signed with the Islanders in 2014, though it appears he’ll earn some of his wage this season while sitting on the long-term injured reserve.
Grabovksi was starting to hit his stride with the Islanders during the 2015-16 campaign before injury struck, scoring nine goals and 25 points in 58 games while skating bottom-six minutes. He has exceeded his point total from the year prior, and he was still a talented play-driving winger for the Islanders even when he wasn’t filling the net.
The Islanders would no doubt love Grabovski back in the lineup, but with him unable to even get back on the ice, it doesn’t seem as though he’ll be making his return any time soon.
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