The orange and black have bet it all on a championship right now.
This year marks the third straight season the Flyers have traded away their first round draft pick. On Draft day two years ago, the Flyers sent their 2009 and 2010 first round picks to Anaheim for perennial finals attending defenseman, Chris Pronger. The trade also sent the Flyers 2008 first round draft pick, defenseman Luca Sbisa, to Anaheim. With that move, the Flyers organization made a statement to the rest of the league that they intended to bring home the cup. The 2010 team saw themselves come within two games of it before bowing out to the Blackhawks in game six.
Monday, the Flyers sent their 2011 first and third round draft picks to the struggling Maple Leafs in exchange for 24-year-old forward Kris Versteeg.
Versteeg is a gritty two-way winger, who’s spent the last three seasons in a Blackhawks uniform, two of which saw him score 20 or more goals. He was on a similar pace in Toronto, potting 14 goals in 54 games.
But it wasn’t just his offense that attracted the Flyers Peter Laviolette, Flyers coach, had plenty of time to scout Versteeg in last season’s finals.
“He can kill penalties, he can play on the power play, play with your top line or checking line. He’s done a little bit of everything,” Laviolette said about the Flyers’ newest addition. “We’re not really comprised of a first line. We’re built by numbers. I really think he can come in and provide more depth. Whether he plays with [Claude] Giroux or plays with [Mike] Richards’, I’m not sure – we won’t do anything with [Danny] Briere’s line. It’s more … he’s an addition to that skill up front.”
Versteeg debuted in the orange and black on Tuesday night in a shootout victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. He finished the night with no points, a minus-1, two shots on goal, and three hits. Most of the night saw him alongside Richards and Andreas Nodl in a shutdown role.
The question is did the Flyers pay too much? His contract is signed for just over $3 million through2012, so he can’t be considered a rental player. At 24, he’ll add depth to an already strong core.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren has shown time and again, he’s not afraid to shed draft picks for players who can contribute right away. He’s done it at the expense of developing young players, which is evident by the teams AHL affiliate, Adirondack Phantoms, planting themselves in last place all season. Although they’ve seen a recent upswing, they’ll be hard-pressed to climb out of the basement.
Russian rookie Sergei Bobrovsky seemingly has a bright future between the pipes in Philly. It’s strange that he went undrafted and at 22-years-old made the Flyers out of training camp due to a couple of injuries at the position.
Holmgren has at times appeared a genius or very lucky. He built a team that clawed their way to the cup finals in 2010 and are currently leading the Eastern Conference.
But with Holmgren’s “Right Now” attitude, if there’s no parade down Broad Street in 2011, there probably won’t be one for some time.