The speedy 19-year-old Michael Grabner has been turning heads since the Canucks drafted him in the first round this summer. He scored his first ever professional goal against the Ducks last week and is still getting ice time in the pre-season despite being one of the youngest players on the team. Grabner exudes confidence on the ice but admits to us some vulnerabilities off the ice.
How much quicker everything is; the pace is so much higher here than juniors. Plus everyone is much stronger and it's just a quicker pace.
How would you rate your performance so far?
I had a pretty slow start, I was just testing the waters and getting used to all of this. After I got used to it, I think it’s been pretty good and I think I’ve managed to keep up with the guys. I’m thinking they’ll probably send me back down after this week. I think I may need another year in junior [with Spokane].
Your junior team is already playing, are you surprised you're still with the Canucks?
A little bit yeah. I try my best out there, trying to stay as long as I can. It’s a good experience and it'll help me for juniors. I hope I can bring a lot back, like leadership and being a better player in general.
Have you gotten on the coach’s bad side yet?
Not really. I haven’t done anything bad, at least I haven’t heard anything bad. So that’s good.
Finish the sentence: I’ve learned a lot from…?
Naslund’s helped me out a lot, he was my roommate. Also Trevor Linden, mainly these two guys.
What kind of stuff do they help you with?
They just mostly help me out with on and off the ice stuff. They say “you shouldn’t be nervous, just play your game and shoot the puck”.
What was your 'welcome to the NHL' moment?
My first game when I played against [Chris] Pronger, he was there my first shift and it was pretty exciting.
Did you guys butt heads at all?
Yeah (laughs), we were kind of going back and forth. I was kind of talking to him during the game.
What did he say?
I don’t know, he was just trying to intimidate me but it didn’t work.
What do you think about being in Vancouver so far?
It’s a great city obviously, really nice people here, I like it a lot.
What’s been the best thing you’ve done on you’re day off?
I went out to watch a movie with a couple of guys, went out to dinner and we just hung out.
Which movie did you watch?
Where did you go out to eat and who did you go with?
Earls with Jan Hansen, [Alexander] Edler, [Brandon] Reid, and [Tyler] Bouck.
Have your friends and family had a chance to come visit you or see you play here?
My billet in Spokane, Rob, he came to Anaheim. At first we watched the game in San Jose, then we played in Anaheim and he came there too. And my girlfriend came out two nights ago when we played here.
How do you feel about your junior team playing here tonight?
They won their first game so far. I hope its going to be a good game tonight. Vancouver’s one of the best teams in the league and we’re pretty high up there too so its going to be good.
Have you seen them recently or kept in touch with your old teammates?
Yesterday I went out to dinner with them - it was good to see them.
If not hockey… then…? Trying to finish college. I never really thought about it though because I’ve mainly focused on hockey, its what I wanted to do and its what I’m doing right now.
What would you want to studying in college?
I like science and biology.