Michael Grabner is set to make his NHL debut Friday night on the Canucks top line alongside Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows.
At 6’1” and 180lbs. 22 year-old Grabner got off to a rocky start during the pre-season and had trouble finding his offensive game. After being sent back to Manitoba for his third season with the Moose, the Villach, Austria, native started clicking offensively scoring four goals and adding two assists (4-2-6) in five games.
Speedy Grabner is offensively talented and capable of putting up numbers but has yet to find his rhythm at this level; with players like Henrik and Burrows Head Coach Alain Vigneault is hoping to ignite the spark.
"Grabs was the best player the last three games Manitoba played and, obviously with two of our top six forwards out in Demitra and Daniel [Sedin], we needed someone to be able to step into that role and assume that job," said Vigneault.
"He needs to use his speed," said Henrik Sedin. "He's extremely fast, he's a good skater. If he plays the same way, we know what he can do and he's going to be a factor for us.”
Grabner is also expected to see power-play action Friday night on the team’s second unit alongside Ryan Kesler, Kyle Wellwood, Alex Edler and Christian Ehrhoff.
Grabner, Vancouver’s first round draft pick 14th overall, notched 30 goals and 18 assists (30-18-48) in 66 games with the Moose.
With five players out with injuries, coach AV shuffled his lines and power-play units during practice to fill in the gaps missing up front and on the blueline.
Forward Mikael Samuelsson is expected to play the point on the team’s first unit power-play, alongside Bieksa and forwards H. Sedin, Burrows, and Bernier.
“I like it,” said Samuelsson. “I’ll take whatever I can get. It doesn’t really matter if I play on the D or up top, I’m happy every time I go out there.
“Right now we’ve got two units that are working well,” explained coach AV. “There’s not one unit in my mind that’s above the other. Every game I’m going with whoever seems to be generating more and it's good internal competition. We’ve got two different units with two different structures so it keeps the opposition guessing a little bit and makes it a little bit more challenging on them.”
With Grabner’s recall, Steve Bernier is expected to bump to the third line with Ryan Johnson and Kyle Wellwood.
“Kyle has some good results in the past with Steve Bernier and Mason Raymond but because of the people we’re missing up front right now I’ve got to use Mase with Kes and Mike Samuelsson,” Vigneault said. “I think right now the best guy that might be able to step in there and help him a little bit more, in my mind right now, would probably be Ryan Johnson.”
HODGSON BEGINS REHAB
Cody Hodgson ,19, who was prescribed plenty of rest, aggressive physiotherapy, and to stay off his skates for one month, has started working out with Brampton Battalion medical trainer Binne Brouwer as reported by Jim Jamieson of The Province.
The 6”0 185lbs. Ontario native sought out a second opinion after suffering from a budging disc in his lower back. Cleared by Canucks medical staff on September 11th, Hodgson struggled to find his game, recording two points in six pre-season games (1-1-2).
Hodgson is not expected to lace up his skates until early November.
Hodgson, Vancouver’s 1st round draft pick, 10th overall notched 43 goals and 49 helpers (43-49-92) in 53 games last season with Brampton.