Typically, when a deal goes down in any sport you generally see both fanbases taking an optimistic approach to their side. Whether it’s simply “the guy we gave up stunk anyway,” “yay draft picks,” or whatever… they usually don’t dismiss it out of hand. So when a fanbase does collectively scratch its head and gnash its teeth at a deal, that’s something worth nothing and probably a good sign for the team on the other side.
Good news for Flyers fans is that Leafs fans & media are none too happy with trade of Kris Versteeg for draft picks. Here’s a little roundup of some reaction.
Versteeg had a tough start to his Maple Leafs career with just two points in his first nine games and five in his first 13 games. Since then he’d added 12-18-30 in 40 GP or a 62 point pace but his start had labelled him a flop amongst the majority of Leafs fans and the anti-Leafs contingent. Today, shock at the move was met with variations on “not bad for a third liner on a shitty team!” which just belies the ignorance that we have to confront every day.
Kris Versteeg was only behind Fredrik Sjostrom among Leafs’ forward for quality of competition at even strength, he was fourth in ice-time among forwards at even strength, he was fifth in points per 60 minutes of even strength ice time. He was clearly not a ‘third liner’ but who lets facts get in the way of slamming the Leafs?
Summing up: the Leafs traded a salary-controlled 24 year old who’s consistently scored 20+ goals throughout his career for a draft pick that’s unlikely to turn into a consistent 20 goal scorer and the opportunity to overspend on a thin and overpriced UFA market.
I don’t like this deal. Why? Because what we’re giving up is essentially a 24 year old player, a 50 point NHL producer who can score and is equally good at setting up teammates. He’s also defensively responsible and would have been a big part of the developing core.
But we got a first rounder? Yes, that might be true, but can one guarantee that a late first rounder (it’s Philly after all) is/will be better for this franchise than Kris Versteeg? No, especially that given the depth of the 2011 NHL draft isn’t that vast.
It’s a tad confounding why the Leafs would part with a player of Versteeg’s age and versatile skill-set—his near $3.1 million cap hit may figure in the reasoning—in exchange for what likely amounts to a late first round pick and a second selection in the third round. Only 24-years-old and in just his third full NHL season, Versteeg finished third in the Calder Trophy voting in 2008-2009 and had already racked up two 20-goal campaigns in young career, well on his way to a third consecutive (14 goals) this season.
-Versteeg is young, has performed at pace that was close matching career highs, ate minutes, and played the point on the powerplay
-Can’t easily be replaced through free agency (though Scottie Upshall and Brooks Laich can probably expect offers)
-It’s not that strong a draft
Apparently Lupul did render Versteeg redundant, despite Versteeg being the better player, and assuming Lupul ultimately lands on the third line, the Leafs have now committed over 7 million dollars to third line wingers.