Kris Versteeg: Why the Deal Is Good for the Philadelphia Flyers

Alistair SmoutContributor IFebruary 14, 2011

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 25: Kris Versteeg #32 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning at St. Pete Times Forum on January 25, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. The Lightning defeated the Leafs 2-0. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

It was inevitable.

Even if there were any doubts in Paul Holmgren's mind when the trade chatter started, the failure of the Flyers to generate any sort of offense against the Kings highlighted the need for a linemate for Richards from outside.

It also as good as ended Nikolay Zherdev's career as a Flyer.

I like this trade. The Flyers didn't have to give away young talent (at least, they only gave away theoretical talent) and they get a good immediate return.

James van Riemsdyk isn't necessarily going to explode any time soon, but he could have all too plausibly been traded away before realising his potential. It could've turned out to be a Joe Thornton (or, for Leaf fans, Tukka Rask) sized regret.

Philadelphia is on course for a low position in this year's draft, so giving up current picks of the late 20s makes more sense than giving up a former second overall pick.

Also, I like how (unlike the Phil Kessel deal, again in Toronto...) the picks are all this year. It has been painful to watch Toronto do so badly and yet never have any high picks to make amends. Dud years can come out of nowhere, so (as Philadelphia aren't going to have a pick in the top 10 this year anyway) it's good to use picks from the upcoming draft, rather than a future draft where each draft pick is potentially more valuable.

Right, so we gave up the right thing at the right time. What about who we got in return?

Kris Versteeg is a solid, two-way forward, who has been able to put up points (35 thus far) on a poor team. Some feel that he has underperformed in Toronto, but he has never been a marquee player, so the expectation put on him on his arrival was somewhat unfair. He should fit well in Philadelphia, where he won't need to be a star, but will contribute offensively in a way that Nodl and others have failed to do. 

He can play short-handed and on the power play. He's hard-working and is responsible in his own end. In other words, he is not Nik Zherdev.

That is the beauty of this trade. Apart from the picks, it shouldn't cost the Flyers any of the intangibles. Come the playoffs, things like attitude and work-rate count double, and Versteeg is doubtless a competitor. The Flyers' system is team-oriented and has little room for egos. During the regular season, Zherdev can be deadwood, and it doesn't effect the team much overall.

However in the playoffs, it could be fatal.

If Versteeg doesn't put up points immediately, at least he'll never be a liability. The same can't be said for Zherdev.

And come the playoffs, that's going to matter.