New York Rangers Player Power Rankings (11/12) 4
Oct 30, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Michael Grabner (40) celebrates with teammates after scoring his third goal of the game during the third period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Grabner‘s hot start for the New York Rangers has been the farthest thing from expected. His success, however, is sustainable. 

When Michael Grabner penned a two-year deal with the New York Rangers this summer, the Blueshirts thought they knew exactly what they had received.

The 29-year old was expected to be a stable fourth-line winger who would aid the Rangers’ penalty killing woes. The former Islander forward could also provide the Blueshirt’s lineup with some much-needed speed.

At the time, that proposition appeared to be a rather achievable task for the longtime New York Islander. Although his numbers had taken a big hit since his 34-goal campaign, his ability to kill penalties and fly down the ice were qualities that were still present despite his injury-prone history.

One thing was for sure, he wasn’t expected to replicate his 2010-2011 production.

Now with nearly a quarter of the season in the books, it’s safe to say that Grabner has exceeded expectations.

The former first-round selection of the Vancouver Canucks has been nothing short of sensational. Although Grabner’s exceptional penalty-killing and over-powering speed were highly anticipated, his ability to find twine consistently were most likely not anticipated by the Rangers’ brass.

Grabner currently leads the Rangers in goals with 10 and has shown no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

The real question now is this: Is Grabner’s current pace sustainable?

The answer is a resounding yes, and here’s why.

Speed, Speed, and More Speed

Yes, it sounds redundant, but it’s with good reason.

When it comes to jump, Grabner is one of the best in the league.

When given space, Grabner has consistently demonstrated that he can skate by just about anyone in the NHL. He has generated ample chances not only for himself but for his teammates as well. There is no denying Grabner when he goes hard to the net.

So Grabner will get some chances, but will he be able to take advantage?

Track Record

Although Grabner’s offensive production has taken a significant dip in recent years (17 goals in the previous two seasons combined), his overall track record suggests that he can score goals at an elite rate.

Grabner is one of only two active Rangers to have a 30-goal season under his belt (Rick Nash being the other). He registered 54 goals over his first two years with the Islanders and while he hasn’t reached the 20-goal plateau since the 2011-2012 season, he has definitely demonstrated goal-scoring prominence.

He collected 16 goals in just 45 contests in the 2012-2013 lockout-shortened season and may have reached 20 goals the next two years if injuries hadn’t caused him to miss a combined 66 games.

J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes

Throughout Grabner’s short-lived tenure with the Toronto Maple Leafs, he often failed to find any sort of chemistry with linemates Nazem Kadri and Leo Komarov.

That has not been the case on Broadway.

The majority of Grabner’s resurgence has come alongside youngsters J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes. The trio has been absolutely dominant to start the season due to contrasting styles of play.

Grabner’s up-tempo play, Hayes’ “pass first” mentality and Miller’s stupendous all around game has resulted in an abundance of success.

Although the speedster currently resides on the fourth line with Jesper Fast and Brandon Pirri, he will likely find himself back with Hayes and Miller sooner rather than later.

Prediction

While his current pace (51 goals in 82 games) is simply impossible to maintain for a third line winger, I fully expect Grabner to continue to play at a high level.

Final line for Grabner: 27 goals, 11 assists, 38 points, +19.

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