Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Shiv on 02/15/11 at 06:51 PM ET
Kris Versteeg will find himself on a line with either Jeff Carter or Mike Richards. And he will put up some solid numbers – at a rate that could potentially be considered Line 1 production.
But obviously, Versteeg is not a 1st liner.
There has been a bit of an uproar in Leaf Nation following this trade (when is there not an uproar?). The contention is that Brian Burke has made trades of conflicting philosophies in the last two weeks by landing Joffrey Lupul to get help now but then trading away Kris Versteeg for help later.
The Lupul trade, however, made Versteeg expendable. In fact, if Lupul can play like a top 6 forward again, the Leafs just landed Jake Gardiner, a 1st, a 3rd and another conditional pick for Francois Beauchemin.
Yes, Versteeg is a better player than Lupul today. Yes, Versteeg is only 24 years old. But Versteeg is NOT a piece that helps a team like Toronto. Versteeg is a player that fits better in a defined role on a competing team.
Brian Burke actually traded away one of his 7 second to third line forwards. Grabovski, Kulemin, MacArthur, Bozak, Lupul and Armstrong can all fill spots 4 through 9 on the Leafs’ depth chart just fine going forward, with Kessel occupying one of the top 3 spots among forwards.
The Leafs are, of course, looking for pieces to fill the two remaining spots in the top 3 to play with Kessel with Grabovski and Kulemin filling that role on an interim basis.
With the Leafs’ current assets, there are not many avenues to fill those blanks.
If Giguere is moved, there is no way a top liner comes back. Kaberle provides a possibility but options are limited given his no-trade clause. The development of Nazem Kadri is another possibility.
The 3rd Round Pick the Leafs received in the Versteeg deal may possibly move by trade deadline as well but obviously not for an impact player without the deal being more comprehensive.
The 1st Round pick, on the other hand, is an opportunity.
Granted the pick is most likely going to be between 25th and 30th Overall. So let us break those picks down historically.
Post-Lockout, picks between 25th and 30th overall have included:
2004: Rob Schremp (25th), Cory Schneider (26th), Mike Green (29th)
2005: Andrew Cogliano (25th), Steve Downie (29th)
2006: Patrick Berglund (25th)
2007: David Perron (26th)
2008: Tyler Ennis (26th), John Carslon (27th)
With 2009 and 2010 picks’ performances yet to be determined, it is clear that there are some solid players that go late in the 1st Round.
Come draft day, though, the future of these picks is random. The expected value of the picks, particularly late in the 1st round becomes interchangeable in many instances.
So it is very possible that with the Flyer’s 1st, Brian Burke drafts the Andy Rogers (30th Overall in 2004) of the class instead of the Mike Green.
But that is where the work of the Leafs’ scouts begins.
There are gems even late in the 1st Round. The Leafs just have to find one.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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