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Leafs Trade Kris Versteeg For Picks: Audi Is Outie

The Toronto Maple Leafs have traded 24 year old Kris Versteeg to the Philadelphia Flyers for their first and third round picks in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Right now those picks are going to be really late in their respective rounds. I am one to usually discount the trade rumour chatter but it seems that in the last two instances that where there was smoke there was fire. As a result, Christian Hanson has been recalled to the big club.

It certainly does look that those that thought that the acquisition of Joffrey Lupul would have a knock-on effect were right. He was more than the price of prying Jake Gardiner out of Anaheim. The net result of the two trades is that the Leafs have added an older forward while moving the better, younger, more complete model out. They've also traded Versteeg's salary control, he is an RFA after next season, for Joffrey Zoolander's higher salary and UFA status after his contract expires. One angle that will get a lot of play is Versteeg's comments in this exit interview with Paul Hendrick.  Mirtle had previously mentioned that Versteeg's a bit of a character and that's rubbed management in a few stops the wrong way. Maybe he asked for a trade. Who knows.

More after the jump.

2010 - Kris Versteeg 53 14 21 35 -13 29 5 0 0 128

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?

Eyebleaf put the trade as "Stalberg, Paradia, DiDomenico for a 1st and 3rd round pick" but that hides the fact that all that has happened is that the Leafs have traded three guys that were looking to be nothing into two picks that will likely turn into nothing. In the meantime, Burke has let an established, young NHLer go. Much like the Kessel trade, we'll really only be able to judge this move down the line once the picks have been made, have had time to develop, and we see where Kris Versteeg goes.

That's without adding in what Burke will do with the added cap space. Right now he stands around $24M. Will he sign Clarke MacArthur? In light of Versteeg's comments it would make sense for him to sign a player that has professed a desire to stay in Toronto. Then again, since we're trading good young forwards, he could be next on the chopping block. All we can do is wait and see but the odds are not in the Leafs favour that these picks will replace Kris Versteeg. Let's see what else Burke has up his sleeves.

* glove tap to @TheHonAdamLuker for the subtitle