February 14, 2011
Leafs trade Versteeg to FlyersFirst-rounder in 2011 coming to Toronto
By TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Dave Morrison, the Maple Leafs' director of amateur scouting, got a nice bonus late on Monday afternoon, provided his boss lets him keep it.
The first-round pick in the 2011 National Hockey League entry draft that the Leafs acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers, with forward Kris Versteeg going to Philly, is the kind of thing that can keep Morrison up at night thinking of the possibilities.
"Any time you can add a draft pick, especially such a high one, is a great thing," Morrison said. "The more picks you have, the better. You want to get the best player possible, and now you have a better chance to do that."
The Leafs also acquired a third-round pick in the trade, but Burke said during a conference call that it's in play in another deal that may or may not get done. As for the first-rounder, Burke said it's not on the block, but he would move it if the right deal materialized.
The permutations that determine where the first-round pick would fall are several, as playoff positioning and how far the Flyers advance play a role. But for simplicity's sake, if the 2011 draft was happening today, the Leafs would have the 29th pick overall. On paper, that's not overly attractive.
However, there are good players to be had at that spot, something Morrison and his staff knows well. Among those selected 29th in recent years include Steve Downie (2005), Mike Green (2004) and Niklas Kronwall (2000). Others such as Emerson Etem (2010) and Carter Ashton (2009) seem to have fine hockey futures in store.
None of this matters to Versteeg, who told reporters in recent days that he figured he would be following Francois Beauchemin out of town.
Versteeg's Leafs tenure was 53 games, during which he had 14 goals and 21 assists and was minus-13.
Burke was sure to say nice things about Versteeg, but it became clear that once the former member of the defending Stanley Cup champions was not going to fit on the Leafs' top two lines, the club saw no point in keeping him.
There was no fluidity when Versteeg played on a line with Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel, and when Joffrey Lupul last week was acquired from Anaheim, Versteeg appeared to know his time in Toronto was short.
"I wasn't given an opportunity, in some senses, to fit," Versteeg said Monday night in an interview with AM 640 as he went to catch a flight to Tampa from Boston. "They have the one line that has been awesome and then you see the other line with Phil and Boz and myself, it just didn't work the way we'd like it to.
"It's not like I asked out of Toronto. I never did anything like that. I did want to stay."
What will Versteeg remember most about Toronto? When asked that by Leafs TV, he did not mention coach Ron Wilson.
"Mainly just the guys in the room," Versteeg said. "The guys that I had a great relationship with, and that's about it.
"It has been a rough go here, period, for a lot of guys and for me to move on right now, I'm excited."
Versteeg, who will be replaced in the Leafs lineup against the Bruins on Tuesday night by Christian Hanson, who was recalled from the Toronto Marlies, had his pals among teammates.
"Good luck to steeger -- beauty of a guy," centre Tim Brent tweeted.
And this from Tyler Bozak, also via Twitter: "All the best to Steeger. He will be missed around here."
Now Versteeg will try to help the team that he helped beat in the Stanley Cup final last year win the Cup this spring.
"It's a team that is very deep," Versteeg said. "They have a lot of skill and hopefully I can just try to add to that and try to be a piece of the puzzle they are trying to put together."