Michael Grabner: Your newest Islanders wild card

To paraphrase David St. Hubbins: "Here comes Michael Grabner...and why not."

Michael Grabner -- claimed on waivers by the vigilant bargain shopper Garth Snow -- was selected seven spots behind Kyle Okposo in the 2006 draft. While Okposo took the express train to the NHL on a talent-shallow Islanders team, Grabner didn't get his first NHL action with the very deep Canucks until 2009-10, when he put up 5-6-11 in 20 games in a mix of roles and powerplay minutes (six even-strength points, five powerplay points).

A skilled Austrian (yes, I'm predictably tickled the Isles have added an Austrian to our Swiss and Danish collection of less-heralded hockey-country characters), Grabner can fly and score -- in all kinds of ways, as the videos of his three goals against Anaheim last April show.

Alas, he did not convince Panthers coach Peter DeBoer that he can finish, so he's our project now, for as long as space is available or he proves he fits. In fact, Grabner has now been sacrificed twice by NHL clubs in the last four months -- once by the Canucks in the 2010 draft trade to upgrade their defense, and once by the talent-thin (but prospect-heavy) Panthers. One ominous quip at Orland Kurtenblog (h/t Litter Box Cats): "...it seems fair to suggest that Vancouver has developed the gift of masking its problem players as potential assets for the Panthers."

Fortunately for the Islanders, who need to replace not just Kyle Okposo (3-4 months) but also 2009 waiver-wire prize Rob Schremp's (3-4 weeks) offense in the season's opening month, there is -- unlike the Panthers summer trade -- little cost to this gamble: Andy Hilbert goes on waivers (in accordance with the prophecies). The final roster decisions get a new wrinkle.

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