Continuing our best of series, today we will look at the best player to wear number 40 for the New York Islanders in their history.
Seven players have worn the number 40 for the New York Islanders in their history. The first to ever do it was Raimo Helminen, briefly, in the 1989 season. Some other notables are Matt Koalska, Joel Rechlicz, Robin Lehner, and Semyon Varlamov.
Of this group, we’ll go with Lehner as the honorable mention today. Robin Lehner only spent one season on the Island, but boy was it a good one. He signed with the team right before the 2018-2019 season and immediately connected with fans once he posted his tell-all in The Athletic.
He then went on to have one of the best seasons an Islanders goalie has ever had. He finished 25-13-5 with a .930 save percentage and a 2.13 goals against average. It was good enough for third in Vezina voting as both he and Greiss shared the Jennings Trophy as well.
Lehner also gave this emotional speech at the NHL Awards when he won the Masterton Trophy:
That’s where his story ends with the Islanders, unfortunately, but that one year had a tremendous impact on the Islanders and their fans both on and off the ice.
Our winner today is Michael Grabner. Grabner was a Garth Snow waivers gem as the former first-round pick joined the Islanders before the 2010-2011 season. That year would happen to be his best year in the league, as Grabner finished with 34 goals and 52 points.
He finished third in Calder voting, 20th in Selke voting, and 21st in Lady Bing voting for his 2011 performance. The following year would see a dip dropping to 20 goals and 32 points on the season before rebounding in the lockout-shortened 2013 season.
In 45 games that season, Grabner finished with 21 points and 16 goals. he was solid in the playoffs that year putting up 4 points in six games in the Penguins series.
2013-2014 saw another regression, and by the time 2014-2015 came along, he fell out of favor with the Islanders. He played just 34 games that year and was traded to Toronto the following offseason.
He finished his five-year career with the Islanders with 297 games played and 144 points (90 goals, 54 assists). He had a brief resurgence with the Rangers before moving to Arizona for the last two years where he’s played 41 and 46 games.
Grabner will be remembered for his speed and his ability to score shorthanded goals (11 with the Islanders) as a mainstay of the early 2010s Islanders.