It’s all speculation, but one has to wonder if Kris Versteeg wanted to take a run with a competitor and Burke’s hand was forced on this one. A 24-year-old, 20-goal scorer, whose two-way game is in very good company, for a low first and a 3rd? It may be for futures, but it’s hard to see good value in this and it seems more than a little out of character for Burke. There may be more to this story yet, with lots of time left before the February 28 trade deadline (and the draft, and free agency).
I’m looking at this deal with three possible explanations in mind:
1) Versteeg wanted out. Burke took what he could get; wanted James Van Riemsdyk as rumoured but couldnâ€™t get him out of Philly. The picks werenâ€™t a bad consolation prize when he was backed against a wall. When asked what he’d miss about Toronto, Versteeg replied “the guys in the room I had a good relationship with, and that’s about it.â€
2) Burke is scrapping the retool and full-out rebuilding. Even so, as a 24-year-old Cup winner on a decent contract, he’s not a player you trade under the premise you’re rebuilding.
3) Itâ€™s a precursor to Burke landing his number one center (or a top line forward). Burke has gained cap space ($3M outbound) and a useful trade chip in a first if this is the case (rarely do you see big names move without a first involved in the package). I usually don’t like speculating about deals leading to other deals (those fail safe Eklund “dominoes”), but you never know.