From the I-Can't-Believe-This-Has-to-Be-Said Files:
Michael Grabner is having a fabulous rookie season for the New York Islanders. The former Canuck is now leading the New York Islanders in goalscoring, but that's not quite eye-opening enough. How's this: with his hattrick last night, Michael Grabner now has more goals than Alex Ovechkin, Jarome Iginla, and Patrick Marleau. He's currently tied with Logan Couture for the most goals amongst rookies, has a five-game goalscoring streak, and has helped the Islanders to three straight wins with 7 goals in those victories.
It is at this point that Canucks fans and media start to take notice, pointing out that Grabner would be third in goals on the Canucks, just 5 behind Daniel Sedin. Heck, he has more than twice as many goals as Mason Raymond, the Canuck he is most often compared to. And so, there are a few people inclined to ask the question, "Why did the Canucks give up on Michael Grabner?" One such person, unsurprisingly, is Brad Ziemer, who goes so far as to say that "giving up on Grabner [was] a big...mistake."
It's not just that it's a dumb question; it's a flawed question. The entire premise is completely and totally wrong. The Canucks did not "give up"on Grabner.
It's called a trade. You give something, you get something. Trading a player is not giving up on a player. Giving up on a player would be something like waiving him with the knowledge that another team will likely pick him up. Like what Florida did. The Canucks, on the other hand, recognized his value, but put more stock in shoring up their depth on defense, an area that has hurt the Canucks in recent years.
The Canucks are currently leading the NHL in goals scored. A pure goalscorer like Michael Grabner is not what they need. The Canucks are currently missing 3 of their regular top-six defensemen. Depth on defense is what they need. Is this a hard concept to understand? The Canucks traded away something they didn't need for something they do need.
Would it be nice to still have Grabner? Of course. He showed decent chemistry with Kesler and Raymond last season and would have been a nice fit on the second line. Do the Canucks particularly miss Grabner? No. Did they make the trade with the understanding that he had the potential to score 30+ goals in the NHL? Yes.
To be fair to Canucks fans, they have been particularly ruthless to Ziemer on this topic, but for the wrong reasons. They instead say that Grabner is getting an opportunity with the Islanders that he wouldn't have in Vancouver, which is only partially true. Grabner is averaging only 14:03 per night on the island, which is about right for a borderline second line player getting mostly third line minutes. He's barely getting any powerplay time and only 1 of his 24 goals was on the powerplay. Quite frankly, he could easily be playing in the same spot that Jeff Tambellini has filled this season, moving up to the second line at times and filling in on the third and fourth lines as needed. Unlike the situation with Brendan Morrison at center, the Canucks don't have a logjam of wingers that would have prevented Grabner from finding a spot.
But that completely misses the point: the Canucks did not give up on Michael Grabner. They traded him. There is a distinct difference. They traded away a valuable asset for a different type of valuable asset and I am certain that Mike Gillis does not consider it a mistake. I don't either.