Michael Grabner is coming off a career year with the New York Rangers. Nobody expected Grabner to be this good, so what do we do with him now?
Michael Grabner turns 30 in October, but he’s coming off his second best NHL season. In 2016-2017, his first with the New York Rangers, Grabner potted 27 goals and 13 assists for 40 points. In his first full season in the NHL with the New York Islanders, Grabner scored a whopping 34 goals and added 18 assists, but that was 2010. Since then, Grabner has struggled to find his groove.
Grabner’s recent struggles are what made him available so cheaply to the Rangers. Last offseason, the Rangers inked Grabner to a two-year, $3.3 million dollar deal to anchor the penalty kill and fourth line. What the Rangers got, however, was a versatile and fast as lightning goal scorer.
With Grabner on for another year, the Rangers have some options with what to do with his contract. Last season, there were mutterings about trading Grabner at the deadline for defensive help.
The Rangers can still trade Grabner this offseason for center help, but then they have to replace Grabner. The Rangers could also choose to keep Grabner until the offseason and try to re-sign him to a team friendly deal. Let’s break down Grabner’s future with the Rangers.
There’s no doubt that the Rangers have some serious holes to fill before next season starts. While GM Jeff Gorton was busy making deals and solidifying the defense, the Rangers lost two key centers in the process in Oscar Lindberg and Derek Stepan. While Stepan was traded for a defensive prospect, Lindberg was lost for nothing in the expansion draft.
With the gaping holes at center, the Rangers may need to make a move for a top six center from another team. The Rangers prospect pool is slightly depleted from Glen Sather’s doling at trade deadlines of the past, but Grabner is still a valuable trade chip.
While he may never score 27 goals again, Grabner is a steal at $1.65m per season. Any team in the NHL should want Grabner to solidify their penalty kill. The Rangers could use this offseason to try and sell high on Grabner, even if they could’ve sold higher at the trade deadline.
Another option is to keep Grabner for the season and see where it goes. Grabner seemed more comfortable in Rangers blue than with the Islanders or Toronto Maple Leafs before, so the chemistry seems to be there. He’s reliable on the penalty kill and has a motor like nobody else on the ice.
Keeping Grabner isn’t even that tricky. The Rangers have the cap room, and they’ll likely have it next offseason to re-sign Grabner. Grabner still won’t cost more than $2 million a season and even that’s a steal for someone with his talent.
Michael Grabner’s emergence as a goal scorer with the Rangers wasn’t unwelcome. The cusping 30-year-old has some gas left in the tank and seems to perform well with the Rangers. Although selling high seems logical, it would be a huge mistake to let Grabner leave the Rangers after watching him blossom this season