For Michael Grabner, who tallied twice in the Islanders’ 3-2 loss to the Bruins, this season has been one full of milestones.
Within a matter of months, the 23-year-old winger went from waiver-wire steal to 30-goal scorer. Representing the Islanders at the All-Star Game in Raleigh, NC, he dazzled those around the league and nabbed Fastest Skater honors. His 50-point campaign (33 goals, 17 assists) has him among the short list of Rookie of the Year Candidates. And most recently, he became a proud father to newborn son, Aidan Johann Grabner.
Most likely, a new contract.
Plucking him off the waiver-wire during the last year of his three-year, entry-level deal, The Islanders need only to extend Grabner a qualifying offer to retain his rights. But following his breakout 2010-11 season, the Islanders are expected to make him a multi-year offer that would keep him on Long Island beyond next season.
Cherry on top for what has already been a momentous season?
“For sure,” Grabner told Newsday Wednesday. “Obviously I want to stay in this city and be with this organization. Hopefully we can get something done here.”
According to one source familiar with the negotiations, formal contract discussions have not yet begun but are expected to commence once the season ends.
Roofing one past Tim Thomas on the power play at 3:24, Grabner knotted the game at 1 in the second period to reclaim the lead among league rookies with his 32nd goal of the season. Later in the second, Grabner netted his 33rd—shorthanded—to surpass Bryan Trottier for second place on the Islanders all-time rookie goal-scoring list at 14:26.
Grabner is the first rookie in the NHL to score 33 goals in a season since Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin in 2006-07.
With two games remaining in the season and the accolades piling up, Grabner has given his future on Long Island considerable thought.
“Obviously a little bit. Especially at this stage in the year, with [two games] left and nothing for next year yet,” he said. “Obviously you think about it, but I know my agent is doing his job and hopefully we can figure something out and come to an agreement.”
When he was claimed off waivers by the Islanders from Florida back in October, he joined his third team in a little over three months. But he acclimated quickly and saw his play flourish as a result.
Known for his head-shaking speed, his humorous Twitter updates and love of naps, Grabner has carved out a cushy spot among the team’s young, talented core. Having that level of comfort, he said, helped him become the player that prompted Vancouver to draft him in the first round—14th overall-- in 2006.
“We all have a lot in common on the ice and off the ice. It’s a great mix in here. Everyone enjoys coming to the rink and working for each other. It makes it a lot easier. I felt really comfortable playing with [Frans Nielsen] all year and I think we’ve got some chemistry.”
He hopes that will continue next season.
“I played for a couple of different teams, a couple of different organization the past couple of years, but I like it here a lot,” Grabner said. “Hopefully we can figure it out.”