For former 2006 first round pick and Islanders star Michael Grabner, the 2010-2011 season was nothing but magical. After being claimed off waivers by the Islanders from the Florida Panthers, Grabner would finish the season with 34 goals and 52 points earning him rookie of the year honors and a contract extension making him one of the Islanders core players. On a personal high, his son being born during the season was icing on the cake to his fantastic season. There was certainly an excitement and certain expectations from the fans for Grabner heading into the 2011-2012 season. Unfortunately 20 goals and 32 points were not what they were looking for, neither was he. Maybe those expectations were a little too high, even for Grabner.
I think this past year # 40 was trying to do too much to meet those lofty expectations and he choked. I may dare say he did go though what most people call the sophomore slump. Big goals/points totals from the previous year, big contract & maybe too much pressure on himself to meet certain expectations did him in. Remember fans, other teams/rivals did not know Grabner going into the season before. This past year there was enough tape on him to learn and be ready for him. You could certainly tell on his face after missing his seventh breakaway goal that frustration was setting in. I believe that it was goal number 19 or 20 when he finally hit a penalty shot & treated it like a breakaway. When he made it, he had the look of “That monkey is finally of my back” relief. On a final note, he did play the penalty kill more than the previous year and had five less shorthanded goals as well. But continue reading and you’ll see where his strength come from.
Fans, anyone who tells you that 20 goals in one season is a bad one is just flat out crazy. Yes he did not match the 34 from his sensational rookie year, but for his Islanders career, Grabner is without question a 20-25 goal scorer in 5 on 5 situations. Only Tavares and Moulson can say the same thing. Having said all this, look for a bounce back season from Grabner and just make sure that every time he does have a breakaway, you stand up and watch because you may never see something that thrilling ever again.