Islanders: Michael Grabner could be good depth signing

Michael Grabner could be a good depth signing for the New York Islanders. Assuming they have the cap space to make it work of course.

New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello is always looking for value when it comes to free agency. This year might be different with the flat cap, but if Lou has money to tinker with he could (and maybe should) look at former Islander Michael Grabner to come in on the cheap.

In 2018 it was Robin Lehner while in 2019 it was Derick Brassard who Lou plucked out the free agency bargain bin. Both players had wildly diverging seasons with the Isles. Lehner became a Vezina finalist while Brassard’s poor play as the team’s number three center forced the Islanders to trade for Jean-Gabriel Pageau.

What’s clear is that Lou likes to go bargain shopping and Grabner could be an interesting one for Lou in 2020. (Again, assuming Lou has the money.)

Power Killer

His time with the Coyotes wasn’t very successful, thanks in part to an eye injury in 2018 that forced him out of the lineup for just under half the 2018-19 season. But his abilities on the penalty kill (as well as his speed) are still very much there.

The speedy winger was recently bought out by the Arizona Coyotes after spending two years in the desert scoring 27 points including seven shorthanded goals and three shorthanded assists. That’s exactly a third of his production with the Coyotes coming on the PK.

Over the last two seasons, the Coyotes have had the top-ranked penalty kill in the NHL with an 83.9 percent efficiency. Over that same period, Grabner ranks third in terms of Coyotes forward for PK ice time at 201:52. Keep in mind he only played 87 games of a possible 152 games.

Here are some of Grabner’s advanced numbers on the Coyotes PK as well as his rank on the team for each:

Stat % Rank
SF 22.82 4
xGF 18.55 1
SCF 20 2
HDCF 25.88 1

*All stats from NaturalStatTrick and are for ARI forwards playing >50min on PK since 2018-19.

Combine those on-ice stats with his ten shorthanded points in two years (only Vladislav Namestnikov has more in that time) and Michael Grabner is the sort of “power killer” that could help the Islanders PK that has ranked 14th in the NHL since 2018-19.

Yes. Money is going to be the deciding factor here. How the Islanders end up with enough to sign Grabner isn’t easy to see and getting a bottom-six forward isn’t at the top of the Islanders priority list. But it’s not like signing Grabner will cost much. After his buyout from the Coyotes, a single year deal worth $1-$1.5 million is fair.

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With guys like Derick Brassard, Matt Martin, Tom Kuhnhackl likely all on the way out (and maybe even Leo Komarov) bringing in Michael Grabner could be a good move for the Isles.

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