Player Reviews, #44, Michael Grabner
By John Panarese
I don’t know what else more I can say about Michael Grabner that Gary and I have not raved about all season. He was simply a completely unexpected surprise, a guy picked up on wavers after being discarded by the Florida Panthers. No one could have foreseen what was to come as the season would unfold.
I remember reading about Garth Snow signing “Grabs” and finding myself recalling having caught a Vancouver game the previous season when he had been brought up to play for the Canucks. I clearly remembered them talking about his unbelievable speed and how the team really considered him a promising prospect for the future. I also believe that Grabner scored in that game as well.
However, I had no idea what the Islanders were going to get from him. In fact, he was held out of the first few games so he could practice with the team and get accommodated with the system at the time, and he missed a couple of more games to a minor hamstring injury. Although he definitely showed flashes of the amazing speed he possesses, it still was not evident right away just what kind of player the New York Islanders had literally got as a steal.
As the season passed, and Michael Grabner became more and more comfortable with his new team, the skill and talent of the guy continued to impress and thrill us fans. He began to score goals in bunches, and it seemed every game, he’d bring the crowd to their feet with at least one break away. It seemed that he simply had a back for finding the open ice, and his blinding speed enabled him to get to loose pucks or flat out beat defenders in foot races. He plainly became the kind of player who creates a buzz among the fans, no matter in which building the Isles happened to be playing. For sure, the Panthers had to be painfully regretting their mistake of casting Grabner off.
In total, “the Gremlin” played in 76 games for the Isles. He ended up tallying 34 goals and 18 assists for 52 total points and a +13. He also potted 6 shorthanded goals, which, along with Frans Nielsen, made them a truly feared pair whenever the blue and orange were a man down. Besides winning the fastest skater contest at the all star game in Raleigh, he also finished among the top 3 players for rookie of the year considerations. Not bad at all for a guy who was said to be a “slow starter” and wasn’t “working hard enough” in training camp.
Thus, to me, a solid A would have to be the “grade” I’d give Michael Grabner. There was a stretch in which it seemed he was going to keep scoring in every game, and the friendly competition he and Matt Moulson established only made the season more entertaining. Of course, the chemistry he showed with Frans Nielsen and, later, Kyle Okposo, created a dynamic and potent scoring line as well. Without a doubt, Grabner was an incredible bright spot for the Islanders season, and he became a “feel good” story the entire league continually talked about.
Now signed for the long term, Michael Grabner is truly a part of the core of this young team. It’s just so astounding to think that he literally came out of nowhere, but now has become an important weapon on the offense. Teamed up with Frans Nielsen for another season, one can only guess how much
better he will get. Perhaps, a 40 plus goal season from Mr. Grabner?
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