October 5, 2010

Isles Claim Grabner, Waive Hilbert

The Islanders today claimed winger Michael Grabner off waivers from the Florida Panthers. As a follow up move to that, the Islanders placed Andy Hilbert on waivers with the intention of sending him to the Sound Tigers.

Grabner, who turns 23 today, comes in with a real shot to prove himself, similar to the way Rob Schremp did last season. The 14th overall pick of the 2006 entry draft had five goals and six assists in just 20 games last season for the Vancouver Canucks. He was dealt to the Panthers in the blockbuster deal that sent defenseman Keith Ballard to Vancouver on draft day. After having a sub par showing in training camp with the Panthers, he did not earn a spot and Florida had hoped that he would clear waivers and go to the AHL.

Grabner is a great skater with good speed, and has very good offensive instincts. By many accounts, defense is the weak part of his game (perhaps even non-existent). The Islanders were in dire need of offense after loosing Kyle Okposo until December and Schremp for the first three to four weeks of the season. Grabner comes to a situation that could potentially be very good for him, and for us.

Some people have concerns about picking up any players from waivers. Schremp has worked out well for the team. Many of the concerns with him were his skating, defensive play and attitude.

I have yet to see any indications about Grabner's attitude, but one concern that people seen to have is the fact that he was unable to crack a Panthers roster that many expect to be last in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers are going through their own rebuilding phase, and have been trying to build a new culture there, one that began when the jettisoned Nathan Horton, one of the poster boys of attitude problems, to the Boston Bruins. Was there any issue with Grabner as far as work ethic? Not from anything I have seen or read, but it is a valid concern.

Judging from the comments made by Garth Snow, the Islanders have some big plans for their new acquisition. As I mentioned earlier, he's a guy who is speedy and likes to shoot a lot, which could possibly help to create chances if on a line with guys like Matt Moulson, John Tavares or Josh Bailey. It will be interesting to see where he will skate in practice, and if this has any bearing on Matt Martin or Nino Niederreiter.

Before last season started, Sean and I went on the air to discuss the Islanders moves. Sean expressed disappointment that they did not go get a "top six try" like some people had speculated. I argued that the move had not come yet, but would come in the form of Schremp. Two days after that, we had Schremp. In similar fashion, this past Sunday Sean thought Grabner was going to be an Islander. Here we are, two days later, and now he gets his 15 minutes of fame. Congrats.

Welcome, Michael Grabner, and Happy Birthday. Here's your chance to show the NHL what you can do. For our sake, please put up the numbers that the Hockey News predicted you to in their fantasy edition - 25 goals.



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