Kris Versteeg's tenure in Toronto turned out to be a very short one as the Maple Leafs sent the 24-year-old forward to the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday in exchange for the Flyers' first-round and third-round draft picks in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.
Vesteeg said that he was looking forward to the opportunity to play for a contender like the Flyers.
"Right away I was extremely excited to join this team," Versteeg said in a statement released by the Flyers. "They've had a lot of success this season. They had a great playoff push last year and I'm excited to try and have a good one this year. I like to make plays and score goals at the same time, maybe go out there and be an agitator at times too. I'm going to try and do it all and have fun doing it."
Toronto originally brought Versteeg over from the Chicago Blackhawks last summer after he was a part of their Stanley Cup championship team last season. In 53 games with the Leafs this season, Versteeg has found the net 14 times, while adding 21 assists.
Flyers' general manager Paul Holmgren said he was excited that a player with Versteeg's talent was available.
"Kris is an exciting young forward," Holmgren said in a statement released by the team. "He's 24-years-old and he'll fit in with our group of players here. He's a quality forward that can play in a lot of different roles for our hockey team. He can move up and down our lineup. He can kill penalties. He can play on the power play. We think he's a guy that over the last few years, particularly in Chicago, has really blossomed into a good forward and we think he's going to be a really good addition to our team."
The native of Lethbridge, Alberta was selected in the fifth round (134th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft by the Boston Bruins. In 223 career games, he has posted 58 goals and 78 assists for 136 points.
Versteeg should give the Flyers some additional offensive punch as well as playoff experience as he had six goals and eight assists in 22 games during Chicago's Stanley Cup run last season.
Versteeg never seemed to quite settle in Toronto and skated the majority of the season on the third line. On a conference call Monday, Burke admitted that perhaps the Leafs were not Versteeg's best fit.
"His best contributions would come on a better team. When you look at what he contributed with Chicago, he wasn't having the same impact on our group," Burke said.
While this latest trade by Burke appeared to be a clear indication that the team is no longer in the playoff race, having last week shipped veteran blueliner Francois Beauchemin to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forward Joffrey Lupul, defensive prospect Jake Gardiner and a conditional draft pick, Burke insisted that was not the case.
"We are going to try and add a player. We have not conceded the last playoff spot, nor will we. If we can add, we're going to," Burke said. "There's no change from our philosophy, it's just that this was the best offer that we had."
Burke also reiterated his desire to make the majority of his moves before the league's mandated trade deadline on February 28th.
"I like to get out in front of the trade deadline, set my prices and when I get my price I want to make that deal rather than get into the stampede around the deadline," said Burke.
The Maple Leafs entered Monday's play 10 points back of the Carolina Hurricanes, who currently sit in the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. The Leafs do however have a game in hand on the 'Canes.
The Flyers currently sit first in the Eastern Conference with 77 points.
In a bit of an ironic twist, the Maple Leafs were 11-0-2 this season when Versteeg scored a goal.
He will face his former club for the first time on March 3rd when the two sides clash in Philadelphia. He will then make his return to Toronto one week later on March 10th.