Michael Grabner is ready to make the next step in his career. Whether that next step will be playing alongside the likes of Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison in Vancouver, or returning to Manitoba for a complete season remains to be seen. Grabner, Vancouver’s first round selection in the 2006 NHL entry draft, appears to be the exact type of player who is capable of filling the Canucks’ gaping offensive void.
“I hope I can help them out with scoring,” said Grabner. “I am not that much of a playmaker. I hope I can get faster so I can be a goal scorer with a lot of speed in the future.”
One could argue that Grabner’s flashy offensive style of play could clash with coach Alain Vigneault’s defensive system; however the native of Villach, Austria is well aware that the Canucks focus on defense, and is not the least bit worried.
“I think it’s just a matter of getting used to their style,” said Grabner. “I tried to follow the Canucks as much as I could. I think they are a defensive oriented team which doesn’t allow many goals against. I just have to adjust a bit but I think I can do that.”
That adjustment process will certainly come much easier playing in front of Roberto Luongo, who Grabner singles out as the toughest goalie he has ever had to shoot against.
“He’s a really big goalie and covers the net very well like you saw during the year,” said Grabner. “He is definitely one of the best goalies in the world.”
While “Grabby,” as his teammates call him, would undoubtedly want to start the season in the National Hockey League with Luongo and the Canucks, he suggests playing in Manitoba would be an opportunity rather than a letdown, thanks to the advice given to him by captain Markus Naslund at last summer’s training camp.
“He said always have fun no matter where you play. Play and just play your game you’re known for,” recalled Grabner. I definitely want to see what I can do with the young guys (in Manitoba) and get some chemistry for the big leagues.”
Before recording two points in two games with limited ice-time in his short stint with the Moose last season, Grabner played for the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League where he notched 39 goals in 55 games. He was relied upon in all situations and excelled on most nights, yet he was still at times criticized for his work ethic and unwillingness to go into the dirty areas.
“It doesn’t bother me,” said Grabner. I know I can play physical but I just have to prove it to some people. I always try my best during a game. Obviously each game is different, but I think I do play with heart.”
When asked about the Vancouver Canucks organization and what he sees in his future with the team, Grabner’s response was very encouraging for the Canucks’ brass and supporters.
“I would like to be a Canuck for my whole career,” said Grabner. “Maybe become a scout someday. I know they are a great organization and I would be honored to be there my whole career.”
Farhan Devji is the author of a hockey based novel, “The Hockey Farmer.” For more information, visit thehockeyfarmer.ca.tp.