Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Hawks send Versteeg to Leafs
ESPN.com news services
The party is definitely over.
Faced with serious salary cap issues, the Chicago Blackhawks traded away another contributor to the Stanley Cup title team, shipping Kris Versteeg to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday.
"Obviously, like I said earlier this year, we're not looking to trade anybody but that's the game we're in today," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said. "You look at the trades that are made, most of them are related around the salary cap, but that's just a reality everybody is facing,"
The Leafs also received forward Bill Sweatt, a second-round pick in 2007 who played four seasons at Colorado College, for forwards Viktor Stalberg, Chris DiDomenico and Philippe Paradis.
"We're always looking to acquire good young players," Bowman told ESPNChicago.com. "We're trying to continue this great run. We're very high on these three players we acquired. Obviously, [Viktor] Stalberg is an NHL player. He's got some size. He's going to complement the playmakers on our team."
Versteeg, 24, had 20 goals and 24 assists in 79 regular-season games for Chicago. He had six goals and eight assists in the playoffs.
Versteeg completed his third season in the league, all with Chicago.
"Kris is a young player who came into our lineup on a full-time basis a year ago and he kind of blossomed as a guy who a year ago was just trying to make the team," Bowman said. "He's a versatile guy, he played some center for us this year when we had some injuries. He's able to play left wing or right wing, got a high skill level, can play across the board in terms of penalty killing and power play."
Versteeg signed a three-year, $9.25 million contract with the Hawks last summer. Cap concerns already forced Chicago to unload playoff hero Dustin Byfuglien in a deal with Atlanta this offseason.
Stars Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith have new long-term deals to go with the huge contract Marian Hossa signed before last season.
Cup winning goalie Antti Niemi and young defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson are restricted free agents and will likely receive raises.
Bowman had said after the Byfuglien deal that the team didn't have to make any more moves.
"I guess that's always debatable in terms of need and want," he told ESPNChicago.com on Wednesday night. "The important thing is we're always trying to improve our team. I've been trying to warn our fans that this team we fell in love with isn't going to stay the same."
Bowman said the deal could make the team a player when free agency starts Thursday.
"We have some more flexibility to look at some [unrestricted free agents] which we probably didn't have as of yesterday."
And the general manager is not concerned about other teams grabbing their restricted free agents.
"They [offer sheets] don't concern me," he said. "These guys are going to remain with the Blackhawks. We have plenty of flexibility to make things work."
The 24-year-old Stalberg, from Sweden, had nine goals and five assists in 40 games for Toronto last season, his first in the NHL.
The 19-year-old Paradis was selected by Carolina in the first round of the 2009 draft, then traded to Toronto in December. He had 24 goals in 63 games last season for Shawinigan in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
The 21-year-old DiDomenico had seven goals in 12 regular-season games for Drummondville in the QMJHL. He also had seven goals in 14 playoff games.
Information from ESPNChicago.com's Jesse Rogers and The Associated Press was used in this report.