Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Versteeg to the Leafs? Yes, please!

Here I am, preparing to sit and watch the 4 hour bore-fest known by TSN as "Free Agent Frenzy" tomorrow to see what our Toronto Maple Leafs do to improve, and out of left field comes this message - "Leafs Acquire Kris Versteeg". It took a second to sink before I reacted to the news...

Awesome. For weeks we have heard stories about how Brian Burke has been searching for a top six forward, a player that can step in a contribute right away. Names from Marc Savard and Nathan Horton to Brayden Schenn and Bobby Ryan have all been thrown about. Many of the rumours have been incredibly far fetched and illogical. Now, we have seen Burke and the Leafs HQ come through, bringing in a genuine top six forward who has already proven himself to be a good offensive performer.

I am excited to see that the Leafs have managed to bring in a player like Kris Versteeg. Versteeg is only 24 years old and exploded onto the scene in 08-09. Last season, the Blackhawks added some players and Versteeg was bumped to the third line, playing with John Madden, and he still was able to put up over 40 points and score 20 goals despite limited ice time. Versteeg is good in his own end, and has great offensive instincts. He may be a little small, but that hasn't limited him so far in his career.

The cost for Versteeg is what makes this deal amazing. To get him and prospect Bill Sweatt from Chicago, the Leafs gave up Viktor Stalberg, Chris DiDomenico, and prospect Philippe Paradis. Out of the three leaving Toronto, only one has played time in the NHL (Stalberg) and none looked to be more then third line players - something the Leafs have plenty of. This deal works for Chicago because they still needed to clear some cap space, and Stalberg should still be a good player for them on their third line.

The best part is that the Leafs were able to keep Tomas Kaberle. Since his no-trade clause was lifted, it has seemed like a certainty that Burke would peddle Kaberle. Many thought that the only way the Leafs could add a legitimate top six forward was if Kaberle was part of the deal. Now, the Leafs have added that top six forward and kept Kaberle. Burke can now move Kaberle to continue improving our group of forwards, or he could keep the smooth skating defenceman and longest serving Leaf and start working on a contract extension with him.

By adding Versteeg, the Leafs have improved offensively and now have more options going forward towards "Free Agent Frenzy". I have to tip my hat to Brian Burke and the Leafs for this pleasant surprise.

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