Monday, February 14, 2011

Trading Versteeg: What's Brian Burke Up To?

I have to confess my own confusion about what exactly Brian Burke is doing in Toronto. First the Beauchemin deal was screwy because it stuck the Leafs with Joffrey Lupul's ridiculous contract which has two more years at $4.25 million per season, and traded a roster player for a prospect that's 2-3 years out. Now they have traded Kris Versteeg for 1st and 3rd round draft picks. They got great value for Versteeg, but again that is punting the football a few years down the road. You have to wonder if the Leafs are giving up on next season when they will have their own 1st round pick again, or if Versteeg and Beauchemin were not as good as expected.

When Burkie took over, he promised a quick rebuild. He sent two 1st round picks to Boston for Phil Kessel, and then acquired Dion Phaneuf from Calgary. Both quality young players who are never the less expensive. Unfortunately, the team didn't start winning as fast as Burke promised and those picks they sent to the Bruins are very high. Kessel is an entertaining player to watch because he is a fast skater and shoots the puck a lot, but he is not earning the value of his contract. Versteeg is young and was supposed to fit the timeline and his contract is quite reasonable at $3 million per for one more season. He has been having a respectable season, doing a lot more than Lupul for a smaller paycheque.

Rumour has it that Burke had been trying hard to get a center for Versteeg in the past few weeks, but couldn't get what he wanted. Now he's rolling the dice on a late 1st round pick who might not even turn out to be a good NHL player. Odds are he won't get a guy as good as Versteeg, which makes me wonder what the Hell is going on in Toronto. Maybe he just wanted a 1st round pick because of the flak he has received for shipping away a #2 overall and likely another top 5 pick in the Kessel deal? Maybe trading away your next two 1st round picks when your team still sucks is not the most effective way to do a rebuild.

I just know that my Leaf fan buddy is having trouble accepting the Versteeg trade.

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