WINNIPEG, Manitoba - Michael Grabner is just about ready to return to the Islanders after his second stint on injured reserve this season, but that's only half of the conversation for Garth Snow and the Islanders' front office. Who comes off the roster and who comes out of the lineup are the bigger decisions.
Grabner missed his seventh straight game and 32nd out of the 37 played so far with a lower-body injury -- what Jack Capuano described on Wednesday as lingering pain from the hernia surgery Grabner had on Oct. 8.
"I wouldn't say he came back too soon," Capuano said of Grabner, who played five games and scored twice before needing another IR stint on Dec. 15. "To skate that hard and condition that hard after missing all of camp, he felt some pain, and we're never going to put one of our guys in a bad situation when they're not fully healthy."
Capuano was quite pleased with all four of his forward lines in Wednesday night's 5-2 win over the Jets, so there is no obvious candidate to take a seat. Mikhail Grabovski has only one point in six games and the Matt Martin-Casey Cizikas-Cal Clutterbuck line has cooled off, but roles are being filled properly during the Islanders' 6-1-1 run.
So Grabner could find himself waiting for an injury or some other event to get back playing.
Tavares meets young fan
John Tavares wasn't here with the Islanders in March, but he made amends for an ugly situation from that Isles trip.
Tavares met Wednesday morning with 12-year-old Jake Lotocki, who took some abuse from fans at the MTS Centre back on March 4 for wearing an Islanders jersey. Tavares had sent his young fan a signed jersey last year and presented Lotocki with a bobblehead on Wednesday.
"At that age, you're growing up and you experience a lot of things in life. Something like that can be really disappointing and turn you off such a great game like hockey," Tavares said. "I wanted to make sure that his support and his love for the game and being a fan of the Islanders and a fan of mine didn't go unnoticed.
"I couldn't imagine having to deal with something like that at that age, that's for sure. It was nice to get to know him a little bit. He was shy, a lot like me at that age."
Arbour has pneumonia
Semi-retired Islanders broadcaster Jiggs McDonald reported that former Islanders coach Al Arbour, 82, is in a hospital in Sarasota, Florida, with pneumonia.