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Grabner adjusting to third team in four months

by Brian Compton
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Never in a million years did Michael Grabner think he'd be on his third NHL team in four months, but that is the case after he was claimed off waivers by the New York Islanders on Tuesday afternoon.
Grabner, who also celebrated his 23rd birthday Tuesday, had 11 points in just 20 games for the Canucks last season and was thought to be a key piece in the deal that sent defenseman Keith Ballard from Florida to Vancouver on June 26. Instead, Panthers GM Dale Tallon, who didn't like the way Grabner played in training camp, placed him on waivers. The Islanders didn't hesitate to claim him.
"It's another chance for me," Grabner said after practicing with his new teammates for the first time Wednesday at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. "I'm glad (the Islanders) took a chance on me. Hopefully I can pick up my game and help them out here.
"It's been a crazy offseason so far. Hopefully I can get settled in here and play well."
Tallon did not mince words when asked about the now ex-Panther.
"I was not surprised (Grabner was claimed), but he didn't have a very good camp and didn't earn a spot on our roster," Tallon told the Miami Herald. "I was disappointed with his play. He has a lot of potential, but you have to earn your playing time here. Reputation doesn't mean anything to me. It gives an opportunity to someone else. We liked his speed and his skill, (but) he didn't show any skill in camp. He can skate and has skill but didn't show any of it."
Grabner, who arrived in New York late Tuesday night, said Tallon's assessment was fair.
"I didn't have a very good camp in Florida," he said. "I thought I worked hard over the summer. To be honest with you, I never really had a good start at camp. I don't know why that is. I tried to change stuff, but I just think I tried to be too perfect and got away from my game.
"I just tried to play a perfect role and get the systems perfect. I didn't really do much out there."
Now, the hope is Grabner will display the talent that made him the 14th pick of the 2006 Entry Draft when he makes his Islanders debut, which likely won't be in the season opener Saturday against Dallas or Monday against the Rangers.

Isles coach Scott Gordon said he wants Grabner to get acclimated to the system here before inserting him into the lineup. Gordon also wants to give Nino Niederreiter a long look after the 18-year-old officially was named part of the team Wednesday afternoon.
"I don't know much about him, other than the people that we've talked to," Gordon said of Grabner. "Immediately, I noticed his skating. He made some plays today in practice that show his skill level. The people that we spoke to -- coaches and GMs -- they were all pretty complimentary of him. There's some minor things that he's got to get better at, but overall, they really liked the player."

Grabner's first NHL games came last season, but he's spent the last three seasons piling up the points with the Manitoba Moose, the Canucks' AHL affiliate. He had 15 goals and 26 points in 38 games last season, and in 2008-09 he had 30 goals in 66 games.
Given the talent in Vancouver, Grabner experienced difficulty becoming a mainstay in the Canucks' lineup. But with Kyle Okposo sidelined up to two months with a shoulder injury, Grabner will be provided every opportunity to be a top-six forward in New York.
It's not going to be just handed to him, though. Grabner will have to earn it.
"He's in a situation where in Vancouver, it's tough for him to crack that lineup," Gordon said. "He's not going to get any better opportunity than probably here, just because of the fact that we lost Kyle. There's some room. What he does with it, it's going to be up to him. But certainly, it's a good situation for him."
"It's another chance for me. I'm glad (the Islanders) took a chance on me. Hopefully I can pick up my game and help them out here." -- Michael Grabner
After a wild summer, a good situation sounds awfully nice to Grabner.
"This team is real young and talented," Grabner said. "It's going to be tough to make this lineup, but I'll just work hard and show what I can bring to the table."
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

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