Toronto Maple Leafs trade Kris Versteeg for draft picks and Toronto sports fans still hate it…

Brian Burke is in a no-win situation.

He gets Phil Kessel for two-first round picks and a second round pick and fans hate that move because Kessel – probably better suited as a solid 2nd line winger – is slumping.

Then, yesterday he ships out Kris Versteeg – a 24 year old winger he picked up from the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks for 3 spare parts in the summer – for a 1st round pick and a 3rd round pick from the Flyers.

Fans… Still not happy because the Flyers are a top team in the league.

But let’s put this all in perspective. I’ve been a Leafs fan since the late 70’s – yes I’m that old – and back then they sucked worse and had no future because of Harold Ballard. Now, they have pressure from everywhere.

Versteeg – I watched him play last week against the Thrashers – was not a good hockey player. Watching him skate around made me realize that because a player is on a championship team does not make him a top-notch player. He is replaced by Jeoffrey Lupal. Lupal came to Toronto with a prospect for a very over-priced give-away prone defenseman named Beauchemin.

Net result, is the Leafs have to get better so as to not give the Bruins a lottery pick this year. They have filled out the second line now with MacArthur, Kulemin and Grabovski. Their first line is Lupol and Kessel (insert a centre that can move the puck here not named Bozak) and in the off season urke will load up a real first line with some free agent talent as the team will have a ton of cap room once Komisarek and Kaberle are gone.

I’m sad for the Leafs.

The sounds I heard most in the ACC were those of apathy.

I just don’t want to give the B’s any more quality players, as Rask and Seguin are enough.

As for the deal just completed today which saw the Leafs pick up Aaron Voros from the (who else) Ducks for a 7th round pick. Sure Voros was available last week on waivers and yes, he was assigned straight to the Marlies, but why give up that pick? Voros, no goals and 43 PIM in the farm this year… Yikes.

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Leafs / Ducks / Flames Shake-up – one game in…

So now all three of the teams involved in the Leafs trade from Sunday have played their first game all with the same common result.  A 3-0 Shut-Out.

The Flames lost 3-0 to the Flyers.
Leafs won 3-0 over the Devils
Ducks win 3-0 over Panthers.

Let me tell you why…

Ducks: Get a speedy forward who could not make it in Toronto. He has skill, and heart but no talented players to play along with him. He should do well with the Ducks. As for Toskala, he’ll be okay as the back-up. No pressure. The Ducks called up another Leafs cast-off in Justin Pogge until Toskala gets to Anaheim.

Surprised and relieved that someone… anyone… was willing to take these 2 contracts and give us a goalie in return. Win-win.

Flames – yikes! Give up a top defenseman, and really tall young defenseman and a good penalty killing forward. In return they get 4 average players. Stajan is ok… at times. Hagman is, as described to me prior to him joining the Buds, a very good 2nd line or 3rd line player who excels when not being checked by the other team’s top players. White is a typical undersized / underrated defenseman who had unlimited potential and gets the job done. He was the Leafs #1A along with Kaberle. Jamal Mayers… Uh huh… Nuff said.

Then the Flames shipped out Prust an agitator and Jokinen a floater for 2 under achieving players in Kotalik (who was sent home by the Rangers) and Higgins who looks like he could use some premium time in the gym…

Leafs – Tempo set by Phaneuf and his hit and fight on his first or second shift. Reminds me of Wendel Clark in that there was a buzz on the ice when he was on. I like that. With Giguere in net it is a huge upgrade over any of the last 6 stiffs who have tended the Leafs net including; Raycroft, Pogge, the Monster, that kids in the farm they signed from the horrible Islanders… Joey something… Toskala and the list goes on. Knowing your goalie might actually make a save builds confidence right away. Sjostrom helped do that on the PK, and finally the young kids get to play in meaningful positions and I’m talking about Hanson, Kulemin, Stahlburg, Mitchell and Bozak. Finally a way to build from within.