The Toronto Maple Leafs traded 24 year old Kris Versteeg to the Philadelphia Flyers for a 1st and a 3rd round draft pick in 2011.
I don’t like the deal for two simple reasons:
- The Flyers get the known quantity and the Leafs presume all the risk (the party that takes on the risk should get more of the reward); and
- It’s highly unlikely that the Leafs will be able to find a player of Versteeg’s ability with the Flyers’ pick.
I looked at every player drafted 25th to 30th from 1994 to 2009 to see how they compare to a player like Versteeg. A guy who in just his fourth year in the NHL already has two 20 goal seasons and is on pace for a third. His boxcars: 223GP 58G 78A 136pts | 0.26GPG 0.35APG 0.61PtsPG.
• Nine (20%) have never played a single NHL game;
• Seven (16%) have scored 58 or more career NHL goals;
• Six (14%) have averaged 0.60 points per game, or better;
• Five (10%) have averaged 0.26 goals per game, or better;
Of the 36 defencemen drafted in the 25 to 30 spot since 1994:
• Thirteen (36%) have never played a single NHL game;
• Twenty-four (66%) have not played in 80 games in their NHL career;
I realize these stats are skewed somewhat as players drafted 2007 to 2009 haven’t had much opportunity to make their mark. But looking at the 78 players taken from 1994 to 2006, the picture doesn’t change much.
In short, it doesn’t look like the Leafs are going to pluck a player with Versteeg’s ability out of that draft spot. Sure, it could happen, but why roll the dice?
The Leafs also got some cap space out of the deal, but Burke hasn’t exactly wowed me with his UFA overspends on Komisarek, Ledba, Orr and Armstrong. And it’s not like 20 goal wingers are available on the free agent market for $3M or less. Also of note, this year’s crop of UFAs is the opposite of good.
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.
Maybe there's another component yet to come, but as it stands I don’t like this deal.