What a whirlwind season for the 23 year old Austrian. First traded in the off season by the Vancouver Canucks to the Florida Panthers and then cut after training camp, I wonder if he ever imagined how his season would end up turning out. Did any Islander fan really see what was coming when the team snagged him off wavers? How brilliant does Garth Snow seem?
The Islanders announced today that they have agreed to terms with Michael Grabner for a long term contract. He will remain an Islander for the next five years, in fact.
“I’m really happy knowing I’ll be staying here on Long Island, especially after Wednesday’s news of a new arena,” Grabner said. “We have a lot of young, talented players who came together last year and I am thrilled to have the chance to be a part of getting this team back to the playoffs.”
Grabner finished the season with 34 goals and 52 points. This gave him the most goals for a rookie this season and put him 3rd in overall rookie scoring. In addition, 6 of his goals were shorthanded tallies, and he had 7 total shorthanded points. Then, of course, 25 of his goals were scored even strength. Yes, without a doubt, Michael Grabner had a truly incredible season, absolutely captivating and thrilling Islander fans with his impressive speed night after night.
To me, with the news on Wednesday about a new arena a definite possibility for the Islanders, this was an important and telling move by Garth Snow and company. If you want to make a statement to your fans that you mean business and are truly looking towards the future, locking up a guy like Grabner speaks volumes. It shows that the Isles are serious about competing in the future and with a new home, they will have an impressive group of exciting players to take the ice.
Besides the fact Grabner is one of the 3 finalists for rookie of the year consideration, one cannot help thinking about his upside. How many nights did he use his blinding speed to come in all alone on a goaltender? Finishing in those situations was sometimes difficult for him, but one must believe that as time goes on and he truly perfects his scoring touch, this guy has some SERIOUS potential. Whether it’s even strength, on the power play or, especially shorthanded, Grabner is simply a versatile scoring threat for the Islanders. Combined with that, how the defensive part of his game improved as the season progressed only indicates that he is very much a “complete package”.
So, once again, well done, Mr. Snow. This, to me, was another important and great day for Islanders country. It is certainly exciting and comforting to know that we will see the combination of Grabner and Nielsen out there for us next season and beyond.
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