30-year-old Austrian winger Michael Grabner being eligible for free agency in
July, there's a good chance the New York Rangers will deal him by the Feb. 26th
trade deadline. If they do, Grabner should fetch a fine return since he's been
red hot on Broadway over the past two seasons. The Rangers signed him to a
two-year contract as a free agent prior to the 2016/17 season at just $1.65
million a year. The club has already gotten its money's worth out of the
speedster and this could be greatly compounded if he's traded by the deadline.
scoring just nine goals and nine assists in 80 games with the Toronto Maple
Leafs in 2015/16, Grabner's signing in New York was seen as nothing more than a
minor deal. However, his career's now back on track after lighting up the lamp
on a regular basis. The right winger was originally drafted 14th
overall by the Vancouver Canucks in 2006. He scored 11 points for the Canucks
in 20 games in 2009/10 and also racked up 120 points in 180 appearances for the
Manitoba Moose of the AHL. Yet for some reason Vancouver traded him to the
Florida Panthers in June of 2010.
another odd move, Florida then placed Grabner on waivers at the start of the
2010/11 season and unsurprisingly he was taken quickly by the New York
Islanders. Grabner's 34 goals and 52 points that season proved the Islanders
had made a shrewd move by picking him up. He scored the eighth-most goals and
even-strength markers in the NHL and was named to the All-Rookie Team.
Grabner's goal production dipped steadily after his first season on the island
though as he scored 20, 16, 12 and eight times over the next four campaigns
before being traded to Toronto.
didn't improve with the Leafs either, but he suddenly caught fire when he
signed with the Rangers. Grabner's first season back in the Big Apple resulted
in 27 goals and 13 assists in 76 contests and a plus-22 ranking. Twenty-six of
his goals and 37 of his 40 points came with his team at even strength and he
added four goals and six points in a dozen playoff outings. Grabner's kept up
the pace this season with 25 goals and six assists in his first 59 games, which
ranked him 16th in goals scored. He's also a plus-11 on the
struggling team and has been a standout once again at even strength with all
but one of his goals coming five-on-five.
places Grabner in the top five for even-strength goals over the past two
seasons as he placed ninth last year and is currently ranked third this season.
His shooting percentage was 16.7 last season to rank sixth-best in the league
and it's improved to 19.1 this year, which is fourth-best for all players with
at least 15 goals. With his explosive speed, Grabner is a breakaway threat
every time he's on the ice and he's also become an excellent penalty killer
because of it. He's also a streak scorer as he's been top 10 in the league
three times for hat tricks in a season. In addition, he's been top-five in
shorthanded goals on two occasions.
likely the Rangers will deal Grabner by the trade deadline since the club looks
set to miss the playoffs and plans on entering a rebuilding stage. He should be
worth quite a bit on the trade market due to his performance over the past two
years, his age and his salary. When free agency rolls around next summer
there's a good chance Grabner's fine play since 2016 will result in a
considerable pay raise. And although he hasn't picked up many assists with the
Rangers, his goal tally has been quite impressive.
Labels: Ian Palmer