Chicago Sun-Times

Versteeg traded to Toronto

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versteeg.jpgThe disassembling of the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup-winning roster continued Wednesday night when general manager Stan Bowman sent versatile winger Kris Versteeg to Toronto.

Versteeg and the rights to speedy forward Bill Sweatt were traded to the Maple Leafs for Viktor Stalberg, Philippe Paradis and Christopher DiDomenico.

The move came less than a week after Dustin Byfuglien was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers with Brent Sopel and Ben Eager. Both trades were due in large part to the Hawks' salary-cap issues.

''I've tried to warn our fans that this team that they've fallen in love with wasn't going to stay together,'' Bowman said. "But no championship team does. It's kind of the nature of the world that we're in. We're doing the best we can to keep our core together, to make sure that we're going to maintain ourselves as a competitive team year-to-year and to give ourselves the flexibility to go into a number of different directions. We've certainly done that."

Like Byfuglien, Versteeg, 24, was an ideal candidate to be traded. Versteeg carried a cap hit of more than $3 million and had often been mentioned in trade rumors.

Stalberg, 24, is the only one of the three acquired players with NHL experience. He made his debut last season, leading Toronto rookies with nine goals and 14 points in 40 games. Paradis is a former first-round selection of the Carolina Hurricanes in 2009.

"We're very high on the three players we acquired," Bowman said. "They bring different things to the table, each one of them. They're at different points of their progression. Stalberg is an NHL player. We love his speed, his size. We think he's going to complement some of the great playmakers on our team.

"In the game today, you have to be able to skate, and he's got the size and the skating. I think when you put him with some guys that can make plays, he's got a lot of potential. The two young kids that we got have a little bit of everything in terms of competitiveness, skill [and] physical play. They battle hard."

Versteeg turned out to be an absolute steal after former GM Dale Tallon acquired him from the Boston Bruins in exchange for Brandon Bochenski on Feb. 3, 2007. He can play wing or center and on special teams.

Versteeg had 20 goals, 44 points and a plus-8 rating last season. During the Hawks' successful run at the Stanley Cup, he had six goals, 14 points and a plus-4 rating. He was a Calder Trophy finalist as one of the league's top rookies in 2008-09, recording 22 goals, 53 points and a plus-15 rating.

But Versteeg also was involved in the now-infamous qualifying offer snafu that led to the reassignment of Tallon. Versteeg has two years remaining on a three-year deal worth more than $3 million a season.

"Like I said earlier this year, we weren't looking to trade anybody," Bowman said. "But that's the game we're in today. If you look at trades that are made, most of them are related around the salary cap. But that's just the reality everybody is facing."

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7 Comments

Bowman can spin it any way he wants. But the bottom line is that the Blackhawks remain one of the least loyal organization's in hockey. As a result, it will be another 49 years before they win another Stanley Cup.

And to the Blackhawks fans who complained about "bandwagon fans," here's the proof that the "bandwagon fans" - some of whom gave up on the Hawks after the Bobby Hall and Pat Stapleton fiascos of the early 70s - know of what they speak.

The Hawks were lucky Versteeg and the other players didn't fly the coop when Tallon "messed-up." This is how the Blackhawks thank Versteeg.

i thought i heard SBowman say a few times he was done trading? I figured that meant Versteeg was safe. How many more guys do we have to dump?

Truth you are clueless. Fielding a professional hockey team with 13-14 players is not a realistic scenario. They had to clear cap room, and thanks to Tallon screw-up adding more money to Versteeg's deal last year he became overvalued. Besides, you might love Versteeg, but I never thought of him as much more than a puck hog who got lucky sometimes.

It's Bobby Hull you stupid XXXXXXX!

Tell the Truth...You are 100% mistaken; the reality is that there is a hard salary cap in place in the NHL. If the BHawks are to re-sign Niemi, Ladd and/or Hjarmelson (sp?) they needed to cut salaries. That's why Sopol, Byfuglien and Versteeg had to go.

I shouldn't bother to respond Tell the Truth's comments, but I digress.

I'm 30, been a fan since 1990. I've seen a lot of good and bad with the franchise during that time. I'm sure not as long as you but enough to understand.

Versteeg was set to make under 1 million last year and this year. Because of Talon's snafu he made over 3 last year for each of the next 2 years. I don't think Versteeg is that upset about it, and it was acutally the Hawks who did him a favor (and Barker, Eager, Frasier, Brouwer and the other 2 who I can't think of off the top of my head..)

It is a hard salary cap. The Hawks have no choice but to shed salary. If it wasn't Versteeg, it would be Sharp. One way or another guys were getting shipped out.

If you wanted to call the Hawks a disloyal organization in the past, I would have completely agreed. It is obvious to everyone in the NHL though that has changed sinced Rocky and John McD took the reigns.

Practically every home game the Hawks are honoring a past legend (and even a lot of guys that weren't legends) and are constantly trying to remind people of the history and what made the Hawks franchise. It has almost been ad nauseum they focus on it so much now.

I like Versteeg, Buff, Sopel, Eager, Frasier. They will be missed, but there were no better alternatives.

You clearly have some sour grapes over the past. Get over it. You post reads like "Debbie Downer" crossed with "Grumpy Old Man" from SNL.

I hope you really like Hossa because his cap hit is why you have to dump players

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Adam L. Jahns is a native Chicagoan hailing from the Far Northwest Side. Jahns has been with the Sun-Times for more than four years, covering the Hawks, Bears, Cubs, Sox and high schools.

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