NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) – The New York Islanders announced on Friday that rookie forward Michael Grabner agreed to terms on a new five-year contract to remain with the team.
“I’m really happy knowing I’ll be staying here on Long Island, especially after Wednesday’s news of a new arena,” Grabner said. “We have a lot of young, talented players who came together last year and I am thrilled to have the chance to be a part of getting this team back to the playoffs.”
The 23-year-old Grabner not only led the Islanders, but all NHL rookies during the 2010-11 regular season with 34 goals. The Calder Trophy nominee also produced 52 points to rank third among first-year players and fourth on the team.
Grabner was second in the NHL with six short-handed goals.
Grabner, who had a 20-game stint with the Vancouver Canucks during the 2009-10 season, was claimed off waivers by the Islanders from the Florida Panthers just before the start of 2010-11 season. In 96 career NHL games, Grabner has 39 goals and 24 assists.
After being the Islanders’ only representative at NHL All-Star weekend, when he was selected along with other rookies to take part in the skills competition, Grabner scored 10 goals during a hot streak in February in which he had a goal in six consecutive games.
Grabner won the league’s fastest skater competition during All-Star weekend in Raleigh, N.C. He also posted a team-best plus-13 rating, and had the fewest penalty minutes (10) of any Islanders player who was in at least 21 games.
“Michael showed last season that he is an elite player in this league,” Islanders general manager Garth Snow said in a statement. “In addition to providing speed and skill to our offense, he’s worked hard to elevate the defensive side of his game to become an all-around player.”
Plans were announced this week that would provide the Islanders with a new arena in several years, if the deal is approved by voters in August. The optimism surrounding the team helped Grabner make his decision to stay.
The Austrian native was eligible for restricted free agency on July 1.
“I’m really happy knowing I’ll be staying here on Long Island, especially after Wednesday’s news of a new arena,” Grabner said in a statement. “We have a lot of young, talented players who came together last year, and I am thrilled to have the chance to be a part of getting this team back to the playoffs.”
The Islanders missed the playoffs for the fourth straight season and for the fifth time in six seasons. New York (30-39-13) has finished last in the Atlantic Division four consecutive seasons, and had the fourth-fewest points in the NHL. The Islanders will have a top-five draft pick for the fourth year in a row.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.
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