For the first time all season, the Islanders could well be about to have their strongest line up available with the news that Michael Grabner is about to be activated off IR and this is a move that potentially is the last piece the offense needs to become one of the most dangerous groups in the East.
Michael Grabner is one of the more underrated forwards on the team, mostly in part to a really poor season last year which featured a two and a half month scoring drought from the beginning of October right upto Christmas, but he brings a lot to the table and isn’t just a one trick pony. One part the Islanders have missed is Grabner’s superb penalty killing ability with his supreme speed able to disrupt entries over the blue line and also steal the puck leading to breakaways, even if he misses them more often than not.
A previous 30 goal scorer, Grabner’s goalscoring ability is unquestionable even if it has been lacking somewhat over the last year. However this season could see an upward surge once he’s activated off IR as for quite possibly the first time he won’t be expected to provide the bulk of secondary scoring. It looks like he’ll either be on the 3rd or 4th line when he returns and either way would still be seeing major minutes, even if he is on the 4th line along with major responsibilities on the penalty kill.
For the first time in his career, Grabner will know that his place will be under threat if he isn’t able to produce as there’ll be capable NHL quality players in the wings waiting to step in if need be, finally the country club mentality is long gone from the Islanders as every player has to produce or they will be replaced and Grabner will be no different, just look at Cory Conacher who started the season on line one but now is a regular healthy scratch who could end up being waived to make room for Grabner on the roster.
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The Islanders offense has already proven to be one of the best in the East this season (third in the league for goals per game at 3.11) but with Michael Grabner‘s return, there is no doubt it could provide yet another weapon and also possibly supply the best 4th line in the league if Jack Capuano decides to play Grabner with Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck which seems to be the general opinion of a lot of fans, although it would mean fan favourite Matt Martin would be a healthy scratch, these are the problems a good teams face and finally the Islanders are a good team.