TORONTO -- Maybe Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello was listening to his coach’s news conference.
About three hours after Mike Babcock responded candidly to a question regarding how exactly the team would replace the departed Phil Kessel's scoring, the Maple Leafs acquired Michael Grabner from the New York Islanders.
OK, so the deal isn’t exactly a blockbuster and Grabner isn’t Kessel, having scored just eight goals last season in an injury-filled campaign that saw him play only 34 games. But the 27-year-old winger did once score 34 goals in a season, back in 2010-11, so it's well worth the gamble.
The Leafs sent the Islanders prospects Taylor Beck, Matthew Finn, Christopher Gibson, Tom Nilsson and Carter Verhaeghe -- none of whom are likely to make the Islanders' roster -- and another part of this trade for the Leafs is dumping some pro contracts to get under the team’s 50-contract limit.
Grabner is entering the final year of a contract that carries a $3-million cap hit but pays him $5 million in actual salary next season.
"We acquired an experienced player with one year left on his contract," Lamoriello told reporters after the trade. "He brings a tremendous amount of speed to the lineup. I certainly have seen him enough at the Island. And it also allows us with the number of contracts that went back, it allows us to do other things at the right time."
Earlier in the day, Babcock had been asked how his rebuilding team could replace the offense Kessel took with him when he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"That's a good question," Babcock said. "Let's not kid ourselves. Phil Kessel, if I'm not mistaken, led the Olympics in scoring. He's an elite player. You need to score goals.
"We're going to learn how to play first. I'm going to concern myself with that."