Monday, February 14, 2011
Posted: 6:27 p.m. Updated: 8:45 p.m.
By Tim Panaccio
TAMPA, Fla. Kris Versteeg was on his way to the airport in Toronto when cameras caught up to the newest Flyer.
Im excited, Versteeg told reporters. Its been a rough go here for a lot of guys and for me to move on, Im excited. The Flyers are a team that is very deep and has a lot of skill. Hopefully, I can just try to add to that and be a piece of the puzzle.
As reported on CSNPhilly.com on Saturday, the Flyers turned their attention toward Versteeg, a right wing, when it became apparent that Carolina wasnt going to deal Erik Cole because the Hurricanes feel theyll make the playoffs.
Late Monday, the Flyers acquired the 24-year-old Versteeg for a first- and third-round draft pick this summer. He is expected to dress against Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
Sources told CSNPhilly.com that Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke wanted James van Riemsdyk straight-up for Versteeg, but Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren wouldnt part with him.
It looked like the deal wasnt going to happen over the weekend because we werent giving up JVR, the source said. Then late Monday, Burkey called and said hed take the picks.
Versteeg is a keg of dynamite at 5-foot-10 and 182 pounds. Hes scrappy and hard-nosed a perfect fit on a Flyers squad that like gritty players, who complement players around them. This will be a nice fit for Mike Richards.
Recall that Versteeg played very well with Dave Bolland in Chicago and during the Stanley Cup Final last June against the Flyers. Hell be even better with Richards.
Right away I was extremely excited to join this team, said Versteeg, who is expected to dress Tuesday when the Flyers face Tampa Bay. Theyve had a lot of success this season. They had a great playoff push last year and Im excited to try and have a good one this year. I like to make plays and score goals at the same time, maybe go out there and be an agitator at times too. Im going to try and do it all and have fun doing it.
The Flyers will endure Versteegs full cap hit of 3.083 million since they have one player Ian Laperriere on long-term injury. They went into Monday with about 3.6 million in cap space to make a move.
Versteeg has another year left on his deal for the same amount 3.083 million.
If they plan any further move before or at the Feb. 28 deadline, they will need to move salary and players. A club source said Monday night that no player will be moved at this time.
Versteeg is the 23rd player on the roster right now.
Kris is an exciting young forward, Holmgren said. Hes 24 years old and hell fit in with our group of players here. Hes a quality forward that can play in a lot of different roles for our hockey team.
He can move up and down our lineup. He can kill penalties. He can play on the power play. We think hes a guy that over the last few years, particularly in Chicago, has really blossomed into a good forward and we think hes going to be a really good addition to our team.
A fifth-round selection of the Boston Bruins (134th overall) in the 2004 draft, Versteeg played in 53 games for Toronto this season, with 14 goals and 21 assists for 35 points. He was acquired by Toronto on June 30, 2010 in a five-player trade with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Versteeg struggled as a Maple Leaf, trying to do too much on a top with Fredrik Sjostrom and Darryl Boyce.
As a Flyer, hell be insulated by better players where he wont be overwhelmed with the task at hand.
Versteeg had 20 goals and 44 points last season in Chicago. He also had six goals and 14 points in 22 playoff games.
While the price may seem high, the Flyers feel that they will be picking anywhere from 25 to 30 in the draft this June.
Sources said the Flyers weighed that Versteeg was as good a player now or better than someone they might get drafting from that position -- and he can help them now.
The Flyers are a legitimate favorite to win the Cup this season and have operated for two years now under the philosophy they want to win it now without disrupting the overall makeup of their club.
This is another move that would seem to back that philosophy up given they didnt lose any players in the deal.
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