Maple Leafs acquire Michael Grabner from Islanders in six-player trade

Toronto sends five prospects to New York for a forward considered one of the fastest players in the NHL.

The Maple Leafs got a whole lot better in many ways when they acquired speedster Michael Grabner from the New York Islanders as training camp opened Thursday.

They gave up five prospects — none of them particularly high-end, all holdovers from the previous regime — for a skilled 27-year-old with one year left on his contract.

“He brings exceptional speed,” Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello said of Grabner. “There’s no question he’s one of the top penalty-killers in the league. He pushes other people, and he pushes the defence back. We’ve seen enough of him to know that. And we’re looking forward to getting him.”

The move also opens the door for the team to sign any of the veteran players they’ve invited for camp by clearing four more roster spots.

“We were really pretty tight on contracts,” said Lamoriello. “We don’t know what might come available. It gives you the opportunity to do just the reverse should that come about of what we did today depending upon the availability.

“You always want to have the availability to do anything and everything.”

Teams are allowed to have 50 players in the pros. (Players under contract but in junior don’t count.)

This trade brought the Leafs to 45, with the likes of Brad Boyes, Devin Setoguchi, Curtis Glencross and Mark Fraser in the hunt for jobs through training camp.

“What I’m looking to do is just get an opportunity,” said Boyes, 33. “That’s why I came here.”

Grabner’s cap hit is $3 million (U.S.) while his actual salary is $5 million. He joins a rebuilding roster filled with players whose contracts expire next July 1 and will be one of those names bandied about as possible trade fodder later in the season.

Grabner has 95 goals and 60 assists in 317 career games. He had 13 points in 34 games last season when he struggled with a hernia.

Toronto sent four players and a goalie back to the Islanders: Goalie Christopher Gibson; forwards Taylor Beck and Carter Verhaeghe and defencemen Matt Finn and Tom Nilsson.

Beck, 24, played in 62 NHL games last season with Nashville (eight goals, eight assists), and was Nashville’s third-round pick (70th) overall in 2009.

Finn was a Leafs second-round pick (35th overall) in 2012, and spent last season with the Marlies. The 21-year-old Toronto native had a goal and two assists in 28 AHL games. Finn starred with the 2013-14 Guelph Storm, leading them to the OHL championship and a league-best plus-57 mark.

Gibson, 22, and a native of Karkkila, Finland, played in 45 games with the Marlies last season, posting a 24-17-3 record with a 2.42 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage. The Los Angeles Kings drafted Gibson in the second round (49th overall) in 2011.

Nilsson, 22, played in 44 AHL games with the Marlies last season during his first year in North America. The defenceman from Mora, Sweden, was Toronto’s fourth-round pick (100th overall) in the 2011 draft.

Verhaeghe, a 20-year-old forward from Toronto, was captain of the Niagara IceDogs of in the OHL last season. The Maple Leafs’ third-round (82nd overall) pick in the 2013 draft, Verhaeghe won gold with Team Canada at the 2013 under-18 world junior championships.

Michael Grabner

Born: Villach, Austria, Oct. 5, 1987

Age: 27

Height/Weight: 6-foot, 188 pounds

Shoots: Left

Position: Right Wing

Previous teams: Vancouver, Florida, Islanders

Draft: First round, 14th overall, by Vancouver in 2006

Trades: Islanders traded him to Florida in 2010 but he was placed on waivers for the purpose of sending him to AHL; NYI claimed him off waivers from Florida; Leafs acquire him from Isles in six player deal Sept 17, 2015

Stats: 317 NHL games; 95 goals, 60 assists, 155 points

Speed: Considered one of the fastest skaters in the NHL. Won the 2011 Super Skills skating competitioin, posting fastest time among rookies for one lap around the ice — 14.061 seconds

Salary: Signed a five-year, $15 million deal with the Islanders in 2011

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