Michael Grabner isn't second-guessing why he was waived by Florida earlier this week. The 23-year-old Austrian winger admits he didn't deserve to make the cut.
"I thought I worked hard over the summer, but to be honest, I never had a good start to the camp or preseason, I don't know why that is. I tried to change stuff, but I think I tried to be too perfect and it took away from my game," Grabner said after his first practice with the Islanders, who claimed him off waivers from Florida on Tuesday.
"I just tried to play a perfect role and I didn't try to play my game. I didn't do too much out there."
Panthers GM Dale Tallon, who acquired Grabner from Vancouver in the Keith Ballard deal during the draft this June, also had some critical words for the former first-round draft pick upon his departure.
“I was disappointed with his play," Tallon told reporters in Florida. "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. He didn't show any skill in camp. He can skate and has skill but didn't show any of it.''
With his third team in four months, Grabner knows he must now make the most of this opportunity.
"I didn't have a very good camp in Florida. It's another chance for me and I'm glad they took a chance on me. Hopefully I can pick up my game and help them out here," Grabner said.
"This team is young and talented so it's still going to be tough to make it, but I've just got to work hard and show what i can bring to the table."
With Kyle Okposo (shoulder) and Rob Schremp (back) lost to injury for the beginning of the season, Grabner hopes he can provide the team some spark offensively.
"Create some offense, get some shots on net and use my speed to back up the defense a little bit," Grabner said when asked what he hopes to show the coaching staff. " Mostly, I want to show that I'm not a liability in my own end."
Coach Scott Gordon said he hadn't seen much of Grabner aside from his goals from last year and the first period of a recent exhibition game . But from what he heard speaking with other coaches and GM's, he was encouraged.
"The people we spoke to were all pretty complimentary of him. Minor things he's got to get better at, but overall they really liked the player. I think he's in a situation where in Vancouver it's tough for him to crack that lineup. He's not going to get any better of an opportunity than here because we lost Kyle," Gordon said.
Gordon said he'll hold Grabner out of the first two games to allow him time to acclimate and adjust. After that Grabner will have to make the most of his second chance and prove he belongs in the lineup.
"What he does with it is going to be up to him."