Even with months of preparation and readiness, the trade of Kris Versteeg blindsided me. It wasn’t the trading of Versteeg that was so stunning–he was inevitable going to be moved. No, there are five reasons Versteeg to Toronto blindsided me. Ironically enough, those are the same five reasons that make me loathe the trade so much.
Reason one: Recent history
Perhaps as Blackhawks fans we are spoiled. After all, the Blackhawks acquired Versteeg in an utter coup of a trade. That goes double for Patrick Sharp. In the Dale Tallon era, the Blackhawks did better than ok in the trade area.
The first move of the offseason, which it can be argued is the first major move of the Stan Bowman era, maintained the status quo of the Tallon days.
Bowman moved Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel and Ben Eager for Marty Reasoner, Jeremy Morin and a first-round draft pick (No.24). It was a massive salary dump, one that you invite your friends into the room to discuss, but brought back a NHL veteran and two high-level prospects. Tip of the hat to you Mr. Bowman, for coming out nearly the victor in a no-win situation.
Perhaps Bowman peaked early. Maybe Rick Dudley, Atlanta’s GM, decided to give Bowman a break. Whatever happened, the magic of the Byfuglien trade did not carry over to the Versteeg trade.
Was it wrong for me to get my hopes up? No more so than it is wrong for me to ask rhetorical questions in a hockey article.
I’ll admit, I’m very high on Morin. I loved how he played in the World Junior Championships and I believe he can be a sniper of the highest caliber in the NHL. Others don’t rank him that high, but if not for his enigmatic nature, he would have been a top-15 draft pick in 2009. To get a player with a ceiling that high in a salary dump trade is excellent. I don’t see any player of Morin’s caliber in the Versteeg trade.
Reasons two and three: Viktor Stalberg and his fellow prospects
I have a strange feeling that Mr. Stalberg and I will not see eye-to-eye on how effectively play hockey. While I am sure he couldn’t care less of my opinion, he might think differently when Joel Quenneville is the objector.
That’s the road the Blackhawks are heading down. Stalberg is a 6-foot-3, 210 pound forward that earned the nickname “The Swedish Rocket.” He’s a big man who skates like the wind. With that speed he also skates away from any contact. While that might be a solid trait in the offensive zone, his lack of any physical play defies logic. A player that big and that fast should be attempting to pattern their game after Cam Neely, not Paul Kariya, and yet that’s what Stalberg is doing. He’s built like a grizzly but is as soft as a teddy bear. Hell, Kris Versteeg has more of a physical presence on the ice. Yet Stalberg will be thrusted into a checking-line role in 2010-2011, as he is not talented enough to crack the top-six, but too skilled to play in Rockford.
Stalberg is the best prospect the Blackhawks received in the Versteeg trade. Fellow prospect Philippe Paradis is of the mold of a Pascal Pelletier. That’s not saying a lot. Christopher DiDomenico might develop into a player of some value, but he will never be more than a defensive center and he is three years away from being NHL-ready.
So the Blackhawks have Stalberg and if my scouting report is correct, they will not be happy with the purchase.
Reason four: Is this the best they could do?
Obviously, this is tied in directly with my dislike for Stalberg: but seriously, is the best return you can get for a top-six player like Kris Versteeg? I won’t even go into hypothetical trade scenarios, because that’s an endless cycle. Regardless, I am sure that Kris Versteeg could have fetched a two better prospects and an NHL-ready player. And while I understand that the Maple Leafs have no draft picks anymore, would it have been impossible to find some 2011 picks in the process?
Reason five: Stan Bowman has robbed us of the perfect union of Kris Versteeg and the Los Angeles Kings
It would have been perfect. Forget the Western Conference rivalry, Kris Versteeg would have been a flawless fit in flamboyant Los Angeles, what with his persona.
He had to be traded from the Blackhawks after this little outburst (my ears are bleeding too), but the kid has star power and Los Angeles would have loved him.