The price for Toronto right winger Kris Versteeg was steep _ first- and third-round picks in the 2011 draft _ but it isn't every year that one move can win you a Stanley Cup.
So Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren aggressively pulled the trigger Monday and added Versteeg to an already-dynamic lineup.
And he didn't have to give up James van Riemsdyk _ whom Toronto coverted _ or a blossoming player like Andreas Nodl.
Good for him.
When coach Peter Laviolette last week said he felt this season, for him, was Stanley Cup or bust, Holmgren took him seriously.
He went out and added a piece that could put the Flyers over the top...and bring the franchise its first Cup since 1975.
Versteeg, 24, is a proven 20-goal scorer who can be used on the power play and penalty kill. From all reports, he is a character guy _ and a bit of a character. Check out his rap video from last year's Stanley Cup celebration when he played with Chicago. (His singing is so bad, it's funny.)
The bottom line: The Flyers now have ridiculously good depth and can withstand an injury to one of their forwards.
Here, courtesy of Flyers PR whiz Brian Smith, is a transcript of Laviolette's phone conference with the media Monday night:
Peter Laviolette Conference Call Transcript – Feb. 14, 2011
On Kris Versteeg
“Just from getting a look at him last year in the finals and then Toronto this year, he’s a young skilled player that will complement the players that we already have up front.”
Q: He seems like a pretty good fit right now with James van Riemsdyk and Mike Richards?
“It could be. I think we’ll get to that point where maybe we get comfortable with some lines. Things have bounced around a little bit. But there’s a chance that we could try that.”
Q: What did you notice about him during the Final last year?
“He’s a tenacious guy that does a lot of things well. He can kill penalties, play on the power play, he can play on the top line, play on the checking line. I think he’s done a little bit of everything. If you look at our lineup and the way it runs, we’re not really comprised of a first line. It’s more we’re built by numbers. I really just think he can come in and provide some more depth to that. Whether he plays with a Giroux, he plays with a Richards… I’m not sure if I’m going to do anything with Briere’s line… He’s an addition to that skill up front. I’m not sure exactly where it’ll fit in line-wise, but I think just more depth.”
Q: Do you think this is an easier deal because you guys didn’t have to give up an established player?
“I know that not having to take something from the locker room will not disrupt anything we had going right now. We’re adding something to a group that’s already established, to a group that’s had some success. A lot of the guys, the core of the guys even last year to a point, obviously want to take the next step, but certainly had some success to play for the Cup… and then even this year, with where we sit in the standings, to not take somebody from that group is really a big key to it. Now we add a young player, 24 years old, you add him into the mix with the Giroux and the Carters and the JVRs and the young core we have going right now, he’s ready to play and help them out. And he’s proven that he can win also. He was a good player for them last year in the playoffs. He contributed in a lot of different ways. He was competitive, he was tenacious, he did a lot of things for them.
Q: Is there somebody you coached or you’ve seen around the league that he reminds you of?
“You know, talking to Homer today on the plane, just a name that came up, I don’t think they’re exact but we just saw him last night – Justin Williams. He does a lot of things, he can kill penalties, play on the power play, he can play with your best players or he can play on a checking line, a lot of different situations… and just aggressive on the puck all the time. When Paul mentioned that, I thought it was a pretty good comparison.”
Q: This is a guy who has a ring as recently as last year. What kind of benefit is that experience going to bring to the locker room?
“I think when you bring in experienced players, I think it helps. But we didn’t have a lot of that last year and we came awfully close. I think our experiences last year we’re going to be able to draw on as well. The players that had not played to that point now have been there. They’ve taken that step to get there. Obviously we’re not satisfied with that and in the end we’re disappointed with it. Adding a guy who has a ring can only help that, but I think this group is pretty determined right now also, along with adding that in.”
Q: Have you thought about the numbers game that you’re going to have with two extra forwards?
“I said it yesterday or a couple days ago, when you’re dealing with numbers, it’s never an easy thing. I don’t make those decisions lightly – you’re talking about people’s livelihood. In the same sense, it’s a business and those decisions have to be made. So they’re tough decisions and we’ll have to do it. But certainly I think adding Kris to the lineup strengthens our mix up front.”
Q: Do you expect Kris to be in the lineup tomorrow night?
“I have not talked to him yet, and I just spoke with Paul briefly tonight. I don’t see a reason why he wouldn’t be in the lineup. I’m not confirming that 100 percent, I haven’t talked to Kris yet. I know he was scrambling to move and try and get things settled. But there’s no problem that I see.”
Q: Can you talk a little bit about the way when Homer sees somebody that he wants, how aggressively he goes after them?
“I think that’s a vision that he has on what he’s looking for from the team. He’s always said he wants to be strong on the back end, and on defense, he goes out and makes a move for Pronger or a move for Kimmo, Braydon Coburn… he made moves this summer. When he knows he wants something, he does act on it. I think because of that, our team and our lineup is a strong lineup. This, again, is just another one of those instances where he felt Kris could really help our lineup. He’s watched him play, and we have a good young player who comes into the mix right now and can help us.
Get exclusive videos and analysis in our new app for iPhone and Android. Download it here.