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Toronto Maple Leafs forward Kris Versteeg goes after a loose puck against Montreal Canadiens forward Lars Eller (L) during the first period of their NHL hockey game in Toronto December 11, 2010. The Leafs won 3-1. REUTERS/Mike Cassese (MIKE CASSESE)
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Kris Versteeg goes after a loose puck against Montreal Canadiens forward Lars Eller (L) during the first period of their NHL hockey game in Toronto December 11, 2010. The Leafs won 3-1. REUTERS/Mike Cassese (MIKE CASSESE)

The view on Versteeg from Vancouver Add to ...

The Toronto Maple Leafs made a trade and, by Canadian law, every sportswriter in the country is required to weigh in on it. So thumbs-up from way out here in B.C.

Having been around the Chicago Blackhawks in the last two postseasons, let's just say there were worries about how winger Kris Versteeg spent his recreational time. Had one person tell me the Hawks viewed him as a potential bad influence on Patrick Kane, and that was before the duo posed for shirtless photos in the back of a limo following a night of partying at Vancouver's Roxy nightclub.

Leafs GM Brian Burke got first- and third-round draft picks from the Philadelphia Flyers, a comparable price to what the Senators got for Mike Fisher (a first-rounder and a conditional early-round pick in 2012). Versteeg is younger, cheaper and under club control for at least one more year, but he's not a two-way centreman, and probably fits best as a third-line winger on a good team, which is where he is in Philly. (He was an excellent third-liner for the Hawks last year, scored an enormous goal in Game 2 of a second-round series against the Canucks, when Chicago was nearly down-and-out).





Burke may not have landed prospects or ready-made players, but borderline top-six wingers making $3 million U.S. aren't going to fetch such a price on this market. The interesting thing is that two teams (Philly and Nashville) have now surrendered first-round picks in 2011, which is a comment on the weakness of the draft, and a departure from the last two deadlines when teams mostly guarded their top picks.

Toronto needs draft picks. Team gave up too many with the Phil Kessel trade, and couldn't afford another sparse cull from the all-important lottery. If Burke's scouts find a player with the No. 29 (projected) pick, and if the salary-cap dollars are put to good use this summer, then this deal should work out just fine.

 

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