Thomas Greiss has delivered two straight career years for the New York Islanders and on Monday night, they delivered him a three-year contract.
That's good news for the Islanders goalie who is short on words, but long on game. At 31, Greiss has finally found the starting job he's been working his whole career for.
"It's a good fit for both of us," Greiss said. "I like playing here, I've had success here so it worked out for both sides. I'm happy to be able to stay here."
That's about all that you'll get from the German goalie, whose three-year deal keeps him in blue and orange until 2020. And why not, as the net-minder has found a fit with the Islanders, playing two of his best seasons with the team, posting a cumulative 2.32 GAA and a .926SV% over two seasons. He's 14-7-3 this season with a 2.25 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage.
"I'm happy for him and I'm happy for us," Interim Head Coach Doug Weight said. "He's proven and earned our respect. To get those big stops and know he's in command of his game and that's what we get every night from Thomas."
Greiss signed with the Islanders in July 2015 as a backup goalie, but injuries to Jaroslav Halak and his own play paved his path to the starting job. Greiss was in net on opening night last season and became the de facto starter after Halak suffered a season-ending groin injury on March 8. Greiss held the fort down the stretch and played a key role in getting the Islanders to the second round of the playoffs.
"He's been a real backbone for us," John Tavares said. "He was tremendous for us in our series win last year. I always remember that penalty shot save was a turning point in the series and his play throughout the regular season and into this season. He's really been consistent and given us a chance to win."
Video: NYI@FLA, Gm5: Greiss robs Barkov's penalty shot in OT
That stretch drive and playoff run showed the Islanders that Greiss was capable of handling a starter's role, but with three goaltenders in camp at the start of this season, he'd have to prove himself again. So Greiss put his head down, worked hard in practice, stayed loose off of it and played well when he had the chance.
"Nothing's changed this year," Weight said. "In every situation, whether we had injuries, three goalies, he was playing, he wasn't playing, he's been professional, he works hard, he's a great kid and a big part of that room. More importantly to the onlookers over the calendar year - 12 months - he's been in the top 20 percent of this goaltending fraternity."
Greiss is getting his first starting job relatively late for a goalie, but said his experiences playing for so many different teams - San Jose, Pittsburgh, Arizona - and learning from so many coaches has helped. He said he's taken a little bit from everyone along the way and molded it into the goalie the Islanders play in front of today.
This has always been the goal for Greiss. As relaxed as he looks on the outside, he's never let go of his competitiveness or his starting aspirations, even when his NHL career took a European detour in 2010-11.
"At times you doubt yourself, but that's what you work for," Greiss said of being a number one. "You always have to battle every day and work hard every day and have that goal."