The Michael Grabner story has been talked about an endless amount of times around here. Entering a new season with a new contract and stability he didn't have last season, what can Grabner do? That Grabner had a bad camp and took a while to get himself going with the Islanders is clear when you break down his stats. For the months of October, November and December combined he played in 32 games and had 11 points. In January he played in 13 games and had 10 points.
From January on Grabs managed nearly a point per game to finish out the season. The Isles were 20-17 when he scored a point and 17-11 when he scored a goal. His offensive explosion was one of the key factors of the Islanders turn around after Dec. 16. The Grabs rising tide also helped raise Frans Nielsen to tie a career high of points at any level, with his previous high of 44 points coming in his first AHL season.
What Grabner can do with a full camp and preseason with the Islanders is yet another reason to be excited this year as a fan. He already was one of the players with the lowest amount of ice time to get over 20 goals, as the Islanders struggled to find a spot for him early on. More often then not in the early part of the season he was floating around 10-11 minutes of ice time a game. Let's not even get started on his low amount of PP time in comparison to other goal leaders. The one downside of Zenon Konopka leaving is the Islanders might not be shorthanded nearly as much as they were last season: Now how will Grabs and Nielsen pile up the shorthanded goals?
We don't know if the whole FnGO line will be back together again. But it would be a surprise if Grabner and Nielsen weren't back together again. It will be fun to see how they do after spending camp together and hopefully getting off on the right foot this year. This will also hopefully be a full season for Grabner, who missed 6 games mostly at the end of the year due to the birth of his first son.
Last season the questions were about whether Matt Moulson would be a one year wonder, and he proved his doubters wrong. Grabner has the same questions, but with his play being wildly different from Moulson, it's hard to see Grabner faltering. That is likely one of the reasons why Grabs was quickly signed to a 5 year deal. Along with Kyle Okposo they are both signed through 15/16, the only two skaters who currently are.
Grabner is one of the reasons I can't wait for this season to start. He was something else last year when he was on fire. Hopefully with a camp under his belt, without having to work with his 3rd coach in 5 months and with the Isles having a clear idea of what he can do, this can be another magical season. It's too bad that he didn't win the Calder, but that didn't hurt John Tavares at all and maybe it gives him a little extra fuel in the tank.
I'm also a bit excited to see if Garth Snow adds anyone from waivers again. The last two years have given us Rob Schremp Hockey and Michael Grabner. While Schremp had an okay first season before leaving for Europe, obviously Grabs was a home run. The Isles don't need another home run (although it would be nice...) but another solid NHL'er would be a nice addition.