Viktor Stalberg Outplaying Kris Versteeg Following Blackhawks-Maple Leafs Deal

Cale LoneyCorrespondent IOctober 30, 2010

Kris Versteeg needs to step up for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Kris Versteeg needs to step up for the Toronto Maple Leafs.Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

The Toronto Maple Leafs traded Viktor Stalberg, Chris Didomenico and Philippe Paradis for Kris Versteeg and Bill Sweat in the offseason to provide themselves with more secondary scoring. The main focus of the deal for most Leaf fans was trading Stalberg for Versteeg. Through 11 games, Stalberg has three goals and one assist compared to Versteeg's one goal and one assist in eight games. However, Stalberg is averaging half of Versteeg's ice time.

Versteeg missed the Leafs' last game due to back spasms, an injury that may be responsible for his slow start. For Versteeg, he was expected to improve upon career highs with the opportunity for more ice time. At this point, the fact that Stalberg has more points than Versteeg means that Versteeg needs to step up his game significantly.

Versteeg had an MRI on Friday that came back negative. The good news: Versteeg doesn't have a long-term injury. The bad news: Versteeg has a nagging injury on top of his cold streak.Versteeg will return for Saturday night's game and hopefully he comes back rejuvenated and hungry for the puck.

Admittedly snake-bitten, the timing of Versteeg's injury may prove to be perfect timing for the new Leaf. Missing a few practices and a game early in the season could help Versteeg with fatigue later on when it is expected he will be consistently producing for the Leafs.

Versteeg had proven he has the skills necessary, and now he only needs to step up to the mic.