Versteeg Just the Beginning
On the eve of the Free Agent Frenzy, Brian Burke has once again stole the headlines with the acquisition of Kris Versteeg to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Burke has added a player who can legitimately play as a top-six forward. The 24-year-old has two 20+ goal seasons under his belt in his first two years in the National Hockey League. While the likes of Viktor Stalberg, Philippe Paradis and Chris DiDomenico will be missed (although the latter two were merely prospects), there's no disputing the move instantly bolsters the Leafs' offence.
The best part?
Burke still has his top bargaining chip in Tomas Kaberle.
What that could potentially mean is another top-six forward to join the forward ranks. And all of the sudden, the Leafs aren't looking too shabby.
The trade sends out a bold message that Burke is for real in his quest to bring the Leafs to respectability once more. With free agency set to open at noon tomorrow, the Leafs are suddenly an enticing option for young forwards looking for increased ice-time and a chance to join an energetic team hungry for post-season action.
On the market, the likes of Matthew Lombardi, Alexander Frolov, Ilya Kovalchuk (not happening) and more are available for teams looking for an offensive boost. While the free agent market is bare this off-season, there are plenty of options to upgrade the bottom-six.
Reports indicate Burke could be targeting Colby Armstrong, Dan Hamhuis (sparking debate that Kaberle is indeed on the verge of being shipped) and Lombardi.
But there's one thing we know for sure: It won't play out that way. Burke has a mind of his own and it'll be interesting to see what he has up his sleeve to fast-track his club to respectability.
For the first time in a long time, I feel there's reason to get excited in Leafs Nation.