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Grabner knows he needs to make the grade

The Islanders claimed former first-round draft pick Michael

The Islanders claimed former first-round draft pick Michael Grabner on waivers from the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. (Sept. 25, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

Michael Grabner knows why he was waived by Florida earlier this week. The 23-year-old Austrian winger readily 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 tried to change stuff, but I think I tried to be too perfect and it took away from my game," Grabner said Thursday after his first practice with the Islanders, who claimed him off waivers from Florida on Tuesday.

Panthers GM Dale Tallon, who acquired Grabner from Vancouver in the Keith Ballard deal during the draft this past 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. He can skate and has skill but didn't show any of it."

With his third team in four months, Grabner knows he must make the most of this new opportunity.

"I didn't have a very good camp in Florida," said Grabner, who finished with five goals and six assists in 20 games for Vancouver last season. "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."

After losing forwards Kyle Okposo (shoulder) and Rob Schremp (back) for the beginning of the season, the Islanders hope Grabner can provide some needed skill.

"He's ahead of everyone we have in Bridgeport, and some guys here," coach Scott Gordon said. "He's been a pro, he's been coached well and that part will make the transition easier."

Gordon plans to hold Grabner out of the first two games - Saturday against Dallas and Monday against the Rangers - to allow him time to acclimate and adjust.

"In fairness to him, we're going to give him a chance to hear us as coaches, get to know his teammates, the system, and settle into New York," Gordon said.

After that, the onus will be on Grabner to capitalize on his second chance.

"What he does with it,'' Gordon said, "is going to be up to him."

New York Sports