However, Michael Grabner has turned out to be a hidden gem, an underappreciated classic like Drive. Because as it turns out, Grabner is the Rangers‘ leading goal-scorer at the midway mark of their season, pacing the Blueshirts with 19 goals.
Grabner’s efforts were recently recognized by the NHL, as he was named NHL Star of the Week for the week ending January 8th. He is the fifth Ranger to be named to the trio of the week this season, joining Kevin Hayes, Antti Raanta, Henrik Lundqvist, and last week’s second star Chris Kreider, but is the first Ranger to win top honors.
Grabner was the brains behind the Rangers’ past two games, both wins, tallying five goals and two assists in road victories over Philadelphia and Columbus. He scored what eventually became the game winning goal in the nationally televised Flyers game on Wednesday night, the first of two goals in the 5-2 win. He also assisted on the first goal of the evening, scored by Hayes.
Two nights later, Grabner was the energizing force behind the Rangers’ come-from-behind 5-4 win over the Blue Jackets, as he was involved in all but one of the Ranger goals. Grabner assisted on the first goal of the night, scored by Oscar Lindberg, but the Rangers found themselves down 4-1 in the second period. Grabner would cut the lead to 4-2 on an unassisted goal, and then played the third period hero, scoring both the game tying and game winning goals, the latter coming with 17 seconds to go in regulation, and the Rangers defeated the Metropolitan Division leaders.
The hat trick on Saturday was the fourth of Grabner’s career and second of the season, the other coming on October 30 against Tampa Bay.
A 2006 first-round pick of Vancouver, Grabner is probably best known for his tenure with the New York Islanders, notably scoring 34 goals during the 2010-11 season. Grabner spent five seasons with the Islanders before a stop in Toronto last year, where he scored 9 goals in 80 games. His 19 goals currently have him tied for 8th in the NHL.
Joining Grabner as Stars of the Week were runner-up Patrick Maroon of Edmonton (5 G, 1 A) and and third star Brayden Holtby of Washington (4-0-0, 2 SO’s).
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490