Grabner, the Devils’ Playoff Insurance

With the Islanders visiting The Rock on Saturday night for Patrik Elias Night, John HynesDevils will unveil a surprise present for The Honorable Patty.

Michael Grabner.

New Devils winger Michael Grabner talks about coming over to New Jersey, playing against the Islanders and his emotions playing for a new team.

He was acquired from the Rangers in exchange for the Devils’ second-round pick in the 2018 Draft, and the rights to defenseman Yegor Rykov.

[Press Release: Devils Acquire Grabner From Rangers]

And if you’re doing a double-take over the first-ever Devils-Rangers deal, how do you think New Jersey’s majordomo Ray Shero feels about trading with his Hudson River rival, Jeff Gorton? I asked; he answered.

In a conference call with the media, Devils general manager Ray Shero discusses why he decided to make the deal now for the winger Michael Grabner.

“It wasn’t that difficult,” said Shero in a conference call. “Jeff wanted to do what was best for his team and I wanted to do what’s best for mine. I’d deal with the Islanders if I felt it would be good for the Devils. Plus, it’s good for the market.”

While Shero wouldn’t go so far as to suggest that Mile-A-Minute Michael, 30, will guarantee a playoff berth for his stunningly surprising sextet, The Maven is on record asserting that Grabner is post-season insurance. Period.

After all, Michael has 25 goals and six assists for 31 points in 59 games. His goal total led the Rangers and his points total ranked fourth on the team.

Hynes revealed during a Friday afternoon press conference that he and Shero brainstormed plenty of the possibility of securing Grabner for the homestretch.

Their final “aye-aye” vote was based on Michael’s assortment of assets.

[Watch Patrik Elias’ Retirement Ceremony Saturday 6 PM Before Devils-Islanders on MSG+ & MSG GO. Download Free]

“We’ve liked him for a long time,” Shero added. “The team has done a good job this year and sometimes you have to make a judgment on your team and the market.”

Clearly, both general manager and coach wound up on the same page after completing their Grabner scouting report.

“He has the speed, the tenacity and is a very good penalty-killer,” Hynes explained. “His style of play and character went a long way with us and we’re very fortunate to have him.”

Darn right.

There’s no sulking, moaning or what-might-have-beens from the Austrian speed merchant. He’s tickled pink to be wearing the Devils’ black-and-red.

“I’m excited being a part of this organization,” Grabner vowed, “and hopefully I can help the team. I’ve played against them often enough over the years to realize they have a quick team with good skaters.

“I’m going to come in and do what I usually do — use my speed. But I know that there are plenty of guys on the Devils who can keep up with me so — for me — this will be a lot of fun.”

With the Islanders breathing heavily behind New Jersey — five points below with the Devils having a game in hand — the Saturday game will have a keen bearing on the homestretch run. Grabner knows all about that.

“I’m excited to help New Jersey get into the playoffs,” the newest Devil asserted, “and, yes, help them win The Stanley Cup. I find the guys here a really positive and happy group. I can’t wait to face the Islanders.”

Michael certainly will enjoy playing alongside Newark’s Kid Lightning, Taylor Hall, the team’s MVP. And Taylor made it clear that the vice would be versa.

“Grabner will help us immensely,” said Hall, “and no doubt he makes us a playoff contender. Whether he plays with me or anyone else his presence will make an impact.”

Coach Hynes vividly remembers the pre-season polls among the “experts,” which unanimously predicted that the club would finish somewhere far South of a playoff berth. Their surprising run virtually demanded a “gift” like Grabner.

Hynes: “The message from this deal is that the team deserved it. Ray felt that the guys have worked hard and he wants to put us in a position to be competitive. Michael puts us in that position; he fits well into what we want to do.”

Naive, Grabner is not. For weeks, his name has been bruited about as likely Rangers trade material.

“Once my name came out,” he remembered, “I counted down the time, waiting to see what would happen. For me it was stressful and I’m glad it’s over so I can focus on what’s ahead.”

Following the Islanders encounter, the Devils visit the sizzling hot Penguins in Pittsburgh. That will be followed by another revived club: the Panthers in Sunrise, Florida. The three-game road trip ends in Raleigh on March 2 against the Hurricanes.

Both the Panthers (March 1) and Carolina remain in the playoff mix which explains why Hynes and Shero debated the ways and means Grabner can help them.

“It finally came down to Ray telling me, ‘This is something that we can do.’ At that point, we both agreed on it. After that, he did a heck of a job acquiring Michael.

“Really, it’s a message from the G.M. that he appreciates and understands what’s going on and really wants to give us a chance to be more competitive.”

No question, Devils icon Patrik Elias will second the motion and love this present named Grabner!

[Watch Patrik Elias’ Retirement Ceremony Saturday 6 PM Before Devils-Islanders on MSG+ & MSG GO. Download Free]