With training camp underway, the Toronto Maple Leafs continue to make moves that provide the team long term flexibility
It appears that the Toronto Maple Leafs were not done with moving out players from the Brian Burke era. The team announced that they acquired Michael Grabner from the New York Islanders, for forwards Taylor Beck and Carter Verhaeghe, defencemen Matt Finn and Tom Nilsson, and goaltender Christopher Gibson.
Looking at the deal, sending five prospects for one player seems like a lot given the Leafs current status as a rebuilding team. However, the Leafs gained something else in this deal – long term flexibility.
With the Leafs inviting four players on PTOs (tryouts) in Brad Boyes, Curtis Glencross, Devin Setoguchi and Mark Fraser, they may expect two of them to be signed at the end of training camp and they would not have been able to do that without this deal. The other thing is that the team will be acquiring a lot of draft picks in trades going forward, so those prospects will get replaced by better ones hopefully.
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The Toronto Marlies will now have Antoine Bibeau and Garrett Sparks between the pipes this season with Gibson now gone, which is another benefit. Both are solid goaltending prospects that need time to play in the AHL, not the ECHL.
Finn was having a hard time making the transition out of the OHL. Part of the reason was because of injuries, but at this point the Leafs decided it was time to let him go after getting a chance to see him at the rookie tournament.
In 317 NHL games between the Islanders and Vancouver Canucks, Grabner has 95 goals and 60 assists for 155 career points. He scored 13 points (8 goals, 5 assists) in 34 regular season games last season.
He is known for being a great skater that has had issues staying healthy, but when healthy he can be a legitimate top six forward. In 2010-11 he scored a career high 34 goals, while adding 18 assists for 52 points in 76 games, so he has the potential to score 20 points playing anywhere on the Leafs top two lines.
So for now the Leafs can sit comfortably, knowing that this trade gives them more flexibility moving forward. However, there is a chance that some of the players sent to the Islanders could turn into legitimate NHL forwards.
Also, Grabner only has one year left of his deal, so the Leafs will have to make a decision on him before the trade deadline. This means Mark Hunter and the rest of the development staff have a plan in place to bring in better prospects, who have a good chance of contributing to Toronto.
It could have been worse Leafs fans – they could have traded one of their top 10 prospects in this deal, but they did not. Instead, they got flexibility to add to their already strong prospect pool moving forward.
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