Time To Shine: Michael Grabner Gets Shot on Vancouver Canucks Top Line

Patrick CwiklinskiCorrespondent IOctober 14, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 17:  Michael Grabner #40 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the Anaheim Ducks during a preseason game at the Honda Center on September 17, 2009 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

It's not the normal custom that a dismal preseason performance results in an opportunity to play on the first line of a major-league team but given some dire circumstances, there doesn't seem to be a heck of a lot of options.

Michael Grabner was recalled by the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday from the team's AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, after an impressive start to his season with four goals and two assists in five games.

The 22-year-old winger reported to practice the same day in Vancouver where he was seen skating with Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows on the top line.

Grabner's return to Vancouver comes on the heels of an injury to the Canucks' top sniper Daniel Sedin who suffered a broken foot during a game against the Montreal Canadiens last Wednesday and is expected to be out of the line-up four to six weeks.

Pavol Demitra, another one of the Canucks' top six forwards, is also on the long-term injury reserve with no official word on his comeback date yet.

Grabner now gets his second chance this year to prove his worth after a disappointing preseason that didn't see him leave a lasting impression in a Canucks jersey and had people doubting his abilities as a future big-time hockey player.

Originally touted as a scoring machine when drafted fourteenth overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Grabner has made a career of excelling at the AHL-level but has yet to find success in the NHL.

This was supposed to be the year he made his leap.

Although Grabner would have likely not have received such a golden opportunity had it not been for the withstanding injuries to Sedin and Demitra, he's here now and knows that to not be written off as another failed high draft-pick, he'll have to translate his offensive style onto a much larger stage.

And it isn't as though the Austria-native is a stranger to scoring goals as he registered 30 goals for the Moose last season, tying centre Jason Krog for the most on the team.

With Grabner's promotion also comes Steve Bernier's demotion back to the third line where he'll re-join Kyle Wellwood to try and boost his lack of offensive contribution as well. Meanwhile Guillaume Desbiens, who joined the team against the Dallas Stars last Sunday, was re-assigned to Manitoba for the time being.

If Grabner can manage a cool demeanour amidst the frenzy surrounding the Canucks these days then he will surely find his game and prove that he is a valuable asset as a top prospect. However, if he gets caught up and fails to make something happen again, it could very well spell the end to Grabner's dream of becoming a full-time NHL player.

The Canucks will visit the Pengrowth Saddledome on Friday in a rematch to last week's regrettable performance against the Calgary Flames that saw them fall their Northwest Division rivals 5-3. Grabner is expected to be in the line-up, playing alongside Henrik Sedin and Burrows.