Vancouver Canucks fans marveled Michael Grabner's performance in the short nine game stint he had with the team.
Grabner picked up two goals and three assists and showed us that he had NHL speed, shot, and defensive conscience to play amongst the elite. But like for the most of his hockey career, consistency remains a problem.
He had a torrid start to the season playing on the top line with Sergei Shirokov which earned him the call up in mid-October when Daniel Sedin went down with a foot injury. Grabner was returned to Manitoba in late December after missing 21 games with an ankle injury, he struggled and only regained his game recently.
<img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2009/10/oct25_grabner_b.jpg" width="300" height="170" class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Under the terms of the NHL's collective bargaining agreement, a player who signs his entry-level contract at ages 18, 19, and 20 are exempt from waivers until age 23. This means Grabner will become eligible for waivers starting next season.
This raises the question, could Michael Grabner be traded on Wednesday in a deal to bring in a rental player?
Grabner's inconsistency has been well documented, there is no guarantee that he will show up to training camp next season and play well enough to make the team. We know what happened this year, he was expected to make the team, but struggled and was cut from the NHL team.
If Grabner struggles again, the Canucks have three options: waive him and attempt to send him to Manitoba, trade him, or keep him on the team. If you waive him, you will probably lose a former first round pick for nothing. If you trade him, you won't be getting a first round pick back or anything of equal value in return. If you keep him, do you really want to give ice time to a player who hasn't earned it?
That and the fact that this the year for the Canucks to win it all makes it a strong possibility.
Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond are set to see their salaries double and quadruple respectively, if not more.
To retain the services of the younger Kesler and Raymond, $4 million forward Pavol Demitra and $3.5 million defenceman Willie Mitchell are not expected to be retained.
Will Canucks general manager Mike Gillis gamble that Michael Grabner will be able to be a full-time NHL player next season or will he gamble on a rental player that will bolster the team's chances of winning a Stanley Cup?