As Michael Grabner has gained momentum these last few weeks, people have been speculating if he could be in the running for the Calder. Up until these last few games, my thought was that Jeff Skinner, Logan Couture, Taylor Hall and Tyler Ennis had too much of a lead for Grabs to get a mention. But with Grabs absolutely on fire, it's looking like his horse is definitely in the race.
Grabner is now 4th in points among rookies, with only 3 points separating him from 2nd. He is tied for first among all rookies in goals. His +10 leads all Islanders, and doubles Frans Nielsen's team leading +5 from last season. Even more incredible is that Grabner is doing this without getting major time on the Power Play. He is tied for most even strength points at 29 with Jeff Skinner. Skinner leads all rookies in points at 45, but that includes 16 Power Play Points. Among Rookies Grabner is 17th in total ice time this season, trailing teammate Travis Hamonic who is 15th and has played 20 less games.
If last season's Calder proved anything though, it'll be an uphill climb for Grabner. We saw that last season as John Tavares was somehow labeled a disappointment. He finished second among rookies in points only one assist off of Duchene's totals, yet finished in 5th for voting for the Calder. The poor media coverage of the Isles (having your cross town rivals control all your media is great) leads to less people recognizing what Grabner is doing. He's gotten attention since winning the fastest skater at the All-Star Game, but to get and keep his name in the race he's going to have to keep coming up big.
Grabner is currently 19th all time among rookie points for the Islanders. He's ahead of Dave Hudson (31) and behind Tim Conolly, Tomas Jonsson and Chris Campoli who all had 34 in their rookie campaigns. His 24 goals is tied with JT for sixth highest of Islander rookies and is one goal behind David Volek's rookie season. Although Mike Bossy's 53 goals should be safe, Grabs could possibly overtake Bryan Trottier's rookie total of 32 goals which is 2nd among all Isles rookies.
Grabner is getting positive attention though, he was just named 1st Star of the Week for this week at NHL.com. This is the second week Grabner has been named a star of the week. For the week of January 30th he was named 3rd star of the week. He is slowly but surely turning into one of the great stories of the year for the Islanders. Everyone loves an underdog claimed off of waivers doing good for himself.
If Grabner can keep rolling like he is or even close, he's going to have to be considered for the Calder. But teams aren't going to continue to be surprised by his speed. It wouldn't be shocking to see teams game planing for Grabs soon. How he responds to that will go a long way towards telling how he'll play next year and beyond. It shouldn't be surprising to see that the last two Calder winners have struggled mightily in their sophomore seasons. Maybe it's better not to win the Calder.