With the buzz of a possible new arena on the horizon, Garth Snow gave the residents of Nassau County another reason to vote “YES” on Aug. 1st for that arena. The Islanders General Manager inked his Calder Trophy Finalist, Michael Grabner, to a brand new 5 year deal. The NHL’s fastest skater will earn $15 million over those 5 years, for an annual salary cap hit of only $3 million untill the 2015-2016 season.
Snow gladly plucked the former first round pick up off of waivers just before the season started. For some reason, the Florida Panthers made the decision that Michael did not fit into their system. What that “system” is, nobody knows. But what we do know now is that Jack Capuano’s system fits “Grabs”, “The Gremlin”, or @Grabs40 as he’s known to his 18,000 + Twitter followers.
Grabner started off the season relatively slow with only 8 goals up untill December 31st. But once the calender turned over to 2011, Grabner caught fire. In January he scored 6 goals, in February he scored 10 goals (including a 6 game goal-scoring streak), and in March/April he scored 9 goals. He would wind up leading all rookies with 34.
What is even more amazing about the rookie scoring 34 goals, is that only 2 were scored on the power play. He was second in the league to teammate Frans Nielsen with 6 short handed goals. So 26 of his goals were scored at even strength. Those goal totals helped give him a +13 rating on the year, which was tied for the team lead with the defensive dynamo, Nielsen.
Garth Snow continues to find these cast-off players that no one wants, or doesn’t think are good enough. Along with Grabner, Snow signed back-to-back 30 goal scorer Matt Moulson as a free agent 2 years ago, after the LA Kings tossed him into the street. He’s only played in all 164 possible games for the Isles in the past two seasons, and scored 61 goals. That earned Matt a 3 year contract extension as well during last season that will keep him on Long Island at least untill 2013-14. At 3 years and $9.4 million, the Islanders have locked up their two 30 goal scorers for an average of $6.1 million over the next 3 years. There aren’t many teams that can say they’ve done that.
It takes more than one light to make a Lighthouse visible in the distance. What the Islanders are doing, is putting together a team that will stick together, and develop an identity. Teams are already starting to take notice of that bright light in the distance. So, the next time an NHL team comes to Uniondale, they’ll see that bright light shining in the distance, and know that danger is close.