Jan 7, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Islanders right wing Michael Grabner (40) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. The Islanders won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Should Michael Grabner Be Traded?

Feb 4, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth (30) makes a save on New York Islanders right wing Michael Grabner (40) on a penalty shot in the third period at Verizon Center. The Islanders won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

A typical low-risk signing by Islanders general manager Garth Snow back in 2010 paid surprisingly high dividends, as a player who couldn’t even make the Florida Panthers’ squad in training camp scored 34 goals in his first full year in the NHL. The young kid was known for his tremendous speed on the ice, which led to many a breakaway and a multitude of chances for both him and members of his fellow New York Islanders.

Speedster Michael Grabner was everything the Islanders could have asked for upon his acquisition. A goal-scorer, a dynamic skater, and a game-changer all meshed into one man were something fans of the Islanders (and the entire NHL, at that) marveled at.

Moving forward, Grabner, who did consistently play well in his first season with the Isles, has not been able to model such play. His goal totals have been decent when you look at them, scoring 20 goals in his 2nd year in Long Island during a regression season, but did rebound nicely in the truncated 2013 season with 16 goals in 45 games, helping the team reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-07 season.

After the encouraging rebound season, Grabner came back with a very sluggish 2013-14. At this point, he has scored 9 goals this season, only scoring in 7 different games. He has looked lost and disgruntled at times; certainly not where he should be, given his goal-scoring talent.

And with the Islanders certainly playing the role of “sellers” at the March 5th trade deadline, it’s reasonable to think that Grabner could potentially be on the move. It’s already been speculated and lightly reported by others that there were potential other additions to pending free agent Thomas Vanek in trade talks, and there’s certainly reason to think Michael Grabner could be that added chip.

However, the question of Michael Grabner actually being traded is not what is primarily focused on. More importantly, should Michael Grabner be traded? Can the team get more out of Grabner by shipping him elsewhere?

It’s certainly a touchy area. He has the ability to score 35 goals in a season, granted he could score more on his breakaways rather than missing the net or shooting the puck right at the goaltender. His skill and ability to make a play is certainly there, and his shot is quick enough to be a real goal-scoring threat in the NHL if he can use it to his advantage.

However, Grabner has shown that scoring that many goals may never happen, as he has failed to produce at the rate he could (and should) be through the last two and a half seasons. He has been consistently inconsistent during this time frame, and has been terrible disappointing, to put it bluntly.

The 26 year-old is still a work-in-progress, but with such little needed to be fixed with him, and hardly any change in his production rate at all, one would have legitimate reason to think Grabner’s at a point where, as many would say “it is what it is”.

So with that said, we go back to the burning question, should the Islanders wait on Michael Grabner to see if he blossoms, or should they ship him at the deadline?

Weighing the possibilities, it’s worth waiting to see if Grabner can fully develop into what he could be, and not ship him away for an okay return. Grabner probably wouldn’t even garner a first round pick in the aforementioned scenario.

Getting an established NHL player for him in a package also seems unlikely, as Garth Snow has said that he is looking for draft picks and prospects in a “three asset deal” from teams around the league for pending UFA’s Thomas Vanek and Andrew MacDonald.

With the chance that Grabner does blossom into what he has the potential to be, it surely is not worth a draft pick or another prospect to add to the over-populated boat that the Islanders have assembled (not to say that’s a bad thing). They have enough as it is, and it doesn’t look like the Islanders will be getting any proven, veteran NHL’ers in any possible return.

And even if Grabner doesn’t prove to be a dynamic goal scorer, he could still serve as a solid bottom six member, as he did last season. His physicality has increased this year, and he could serve as a 20 goal scorer per year, as well as a physical presence and a solid penalty killer, both of which he is capable of.

Looking ahead, the Islanders don’t necessarily need Grabner to score a high amount of goals per season. They have plenty of offensive talent, and have even more in the pipeline waiting to come up. His “void” would surely be filled with current providers such as John Tavares and Kyle Okposo, along with upcoming bright spots in the organization, like Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome, and Anders Lee.

I still view Michael Grabner as a “wait and see” player, and hopefully with patience, we will see the results. But even if we don’t see a high scoring, prolific NHL forward, the Islanders surely would have a solid two-way play in Grabner, and he has proven that he does have value to the team he is playing for.

-Peter (@PJMcEntee)

I want to know what you, the reader, thinks about the situation. Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments section below, or give me a shout on twitter. And of course, thanks for reading. 


Tags: New York Islanders Nhl Puck Drop

  • Steve

    Eventually id like one of our wingers to be moved. Id like to see another physical presence who can contribute offensively in the top 6. Grabner would be one of the best 3rd liners in the league though and certainly a valuable weapon. If he can be used as bait to lure a bigger piece of the puzzle then it should certainly be considered, but moving him just for the sake of moving him makes little sense. We probably would not get back equal value of thats the case. Like most players on this team though, id love to evaluate them under a different coach. The longer Capuano stays, the longer it’ll take for this team to finally come around.

    • Peter McEntee

      I think you hit the nail on the head regarding Capuano, and I do think this is his last season as head coach. Regarding wingers being moved, it does make sense, although I’m not sure what physical, offensive forwards are available at the moment. If there is any case that they are, I’ll gladly take it.

      • Steve

        Agree. Im sure every team would essentially be looking for that type of player.

  • FitzWilly

    Can we plz trade Josh “Beetle” Bailey for a used Jock Strap
    it is just so depressing watching him float around
    time to officially give up this “project”

    • Peter McEntee

      The sad truth is with how poorly he’s been playing and his contract situation, nobody’s taking him. Except the jock strap factory, I’ll work the phones. Haha

      • FitzWilly

        Tx Peter

  • fnfelon

    I would hope that no one is traded until this dysfunctional franchise first gets a new Coach, I would like Ron Wilson, to evaluate these players and see who to keep and who to trade. That goes for Josh Invisabailey also.

    • Peter McEntee

      I agree for the most part, but you need to trade someone like Vanek or AMac, who most certainly are not coming back. We need to get something from them, rather than just watch yet another player leave without getting any value

      • fnfelon

        Yes of course you must trade Vanek and AMAC if they can’t be signed. I meant if they are looking at wholesale changes and look to trade say Grabner, Martin, or CC. I just want an experienced Coach to look at what is there and decide who should stay and who should go. Someone who’s been there before and can get them to the next level.

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  • Phillyo

    Although I agree with all posters that we should punt Capuano, it seems as though we do not offer more evidence as to why his dismissal for an experienced coach makes all roster moves moot. (not that wins & losses shouldn’t be evidence enough for Wang). someone posted About Bailey, it is true that he is an underperformer. But he is the poster boy that one should look no further. He clearly has talent, great vision & a hockey IQ arguably better than everyone on the team sans JT. What cannot go unnoticed is his immature approach to winning a game. Like a child he constantly thinks every puck possession is his time to dipsy doodle in juvenile hopes that his skills will be featured on ESPN ala Pavel Datsyk. Where a simple ‘throw it towards the net and then crash it’ would suffice. As though it were beneath him. No matter, the fact is he has not improved during his tenure. Continues to play disinterested & plays games ‘not to lose’ rather than win. And as all of us witness, Grabner miss chance after open chance on one-on-ones with the goalie, there too is testament that Crapuano has not idea how to develop young players. “Hey Jack, here’s a thought, have Fnanzie work with Grabs over the summer on shoot outs!” Yes, Capuano must go, bring in a bonified NHL Coach, & then look for roster moves. As of now, it will make no difference who we bring in youth wise, JC cannot develop them closer to their potential

  • pieman17

    I think a lot of people dump on Capuano and ignore the messes that Snow has created. Snow has been attempting to rebuild the Isles through the draft/low level fa signings/trades – and he has a pretty bad record. Bailey is a prime example. Tavares was a no brainer. The trade for Vanek made no sense swapping Moulson’s ufa for Vanek’s ufa and a #1 & #2 picks – why? So now we can trade Vanek for a high draft pick? Moulson would have brought a high pick – just watch what Buffalo gets for him. This team needs a #1 goaler and a deeper D corps – where are they? This finish on the bottom routine so we can get ‘exciting high draft picks’ is played out. The Coliseum rocked last year and everyone who roots for the Isles is disappointed. But to lay it on Cappy and not criticize Snow for his part is only looking at 1/2 the problem.

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  • markp

    Defenseman are not as aggressive when they no grabber is looking
    His production is equal to a third line $3 million player
    Very little power play time : average 20 plus goals
    Unless he gets us the goalie we need…..keep

  • Porkchop

    Really simple: keep him because you cannot teach SPEED… Plus now all of Austria is watching the Isles lol. I wish Peter Laviolette was our Coach BTW…

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