NHL Trade Rumors: Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks—Opposites Attract?

Matt Wiseman@HockeyWiseCorrespondent IIIFebruary 9, 2011

WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 06:  Kris Versteeg #32 of the Toronto Maple Leafs warms up before the game against the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center on December 6, 2010 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Greg Fiume/Getty Images

The rumor mills have churned out another intriguing trade possibility, this time involving a pair of Canadian teams from opposite ends of the spectrum.

For a few weeks, speculation has grown about the possibility of the Toronto Maple Leafs parting ways with forward Kris Versteeg, who was acquired in a trade with the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks over the offseason.

Versteeg has not turned out to be an ideal linemate for Phil Kessel as the Leafs had hoped, but he has put on the board similar numbers that found him success in Chicago. His versatile play has gotten him 14 goals and 21 assists thus far.

With those numbers, 35 points in 51 games, Versteeg has equaled the point output of streaky sniper Kessel.

Versteeg came over from Chicago as a solid third-line player, and deserves much credit for consistent play that has him on pace to notch over 20 goals. Combine a good season in Toronto with previous playoff success and the Leafs have a valuable trading commodity in Versteeg.

If Brian Burke was to decide to trade Versteeg before or on the Feb. 28 deadline the question becomes, what will the return be?

The most recent rumor suggests that the Vancouver Canucks may be willing to part ways with young prospect, Cody Hodgson. Due to the excellent play of the Canucks, Hodgson has only been able to find his way into four games thus far this season.

In those four games, he has notched a goal and an assist for two points, and has a plus/minus rating of plus-1. Comparing numbers, however, does not suffice when considering this trade possibility.

A simple swap will mostly likely not happen considering that Versteeg is at best a pivotal second-line forward, and Hodgson is projected to be a top-line center for years to come.

On the other hand, Versteeg has won a Stanley Cup, while Hodgson's young career has been plagued with back injuries.

Regardless, any trade scenario involving these two players would more than likely involve additional pieces, of which are hard to determine beyond speculation.

But this potential trade is a win-win for both teams.

The Canucks have a log jam at center ice and Versteeg would provide them with forward depth and vital playoff experience; not to mention his clutch goal scoring ability that was paramount in the Blackhawks drive to the cup last season. 

In Hodgson, the Leafs would acquire a highly touted prospect at the center position that would solidify a youthful forward core moving forward.

This trade has the potential to happen because it benefits both teams in the foreseeable future. The Leafs add much-needed potential at the center position, while the Canucks add depth for a playoff run.

Many in Leafs Nation think that the Leafs would be better off keeping Versteeg, but if he was to be traded, the possibilities for a very good return are extremely high.


If you enjoy what you’ve read please let me know by following me on Twitter @that_hockey_guy