February 14, 2011
For Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren, who traded two draft picks to the Toronto Maple Leafs for winger Kris Versteeg(notes) tonight, we imagine the thought process was simple: If you want to raise the Stanley Cup in Philadelphia this season, why not add a guy who raised the Stanley Cup in Philadelphia last season?
From the Flyers:
The Philadelphia Flyers announced today that they have acquired 5-10, 182-pound right wing Kris Versteeg from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a first-round and a third-round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, according to general manager Paul Holmgren.
"Kris is an exciting young forward," Holmgren said. He's 24 years old and he'll fit in with our group of players here. He's a quality forward that can play in a lot of different roles for our hockey team. He can move up and down our lineup. He can kill penalties. He can play on the power play. We think he's a guy that over the last few years, particularly in Chicago, has really blossomed into a good forward and we think he's going to be a really good addition to our team."
"Right away I was extremely excited to join this team," Versteeg said. "They've had a lot of success this season. They had a great playoff push last year and I'm excited to try and have a good one this year. I like to make plays and score goals at the same time, maybe go out there and be an agitator at times too. I'm going to try and do it all and have fun doing it."
The Flyers had been rearranging their salary cap for some type of deal since the end of January. So why Versteeg, and what does this deal mean for the Leafs?
(Ed. Note: Comments from the Brian Burke press conference after the jump.)
Yet, one player who is likely on their radar for an upgrade is Toronto winger Kris Versteeg, whose cap hit is an affordable $3.083 million this year and next. The soon-to-be 25-year-old left wing is a perfect fit for the Flyers: a gritty, hard checker who plays above his 5-foot-10 size.
So instead of Cole, it's another left wing, and a good one: Versteeg's a perfect complementary forward for a team with the depth the Flyers have up front, and he has 26 points in 39 career playoff games with the Blackhawks.
Meanwhile, Brian Burke has turned Viktor Stalberg(notes), Chris DiDomenico(notes) and Phillippe Paradis into the Flyers' first and third round picks this summer. Mirtle sees the acquisition and then flipping of Versteeg as "another sign Toronto is beginning a longer rebuild than the Leafs GM first envisioned."
We're just happy to see first-round pucks coming to Toronto for a change.
• • •
UPDATE: Leafs GM Brian Burke held a conference call on Monday night to discuss the trade and other topics. A few highlights:
• Burke said the Leafs have been in the process of shopping Versteeg for at least a week, and using the Flyers' offer as the benchmark. They didn't receive anything comparable, didn't believe they'd get this package at the deadline and were concerned that the Flyers would go for another option. So the trigger was pulled.
• Burke talked about Versteeg fitting better with a "better" team; as in a team like the Blackhawks or Flyers that is in contention. After about five months, was it clear that Versteeg was just an ill fit for the Leafs on and off the ice? Well, they just traded a 24-year-old top six forward (after trading for him) with a manageable cap hit and a contract that runs through 2012 for two draft picks. You do the math.
• Burke is already shopping the Flyers' third-round pick, and the target appears to be a forward that would add salary to the Leafs' cap. Burke said the team is very much still eying the playoffs.
• Finally, when asked about Tomas Kaberle(notes) and his no-trade clause, Burke said his agent has asked for secrecy in the process. The agent and the player have kept this vow; Burke said the Leafs will do the same. So is there smoke here? Or is this just more of the same when it comes to Kaberle and the deadline?