Chicago trades Kris Versteeg to Toronto for Viktor Stalberg, prospects

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krisversteeg.jpgThe quiet before the free agency storm was broken tonight when the Chicago Blackhawks traded forward Kris Versteeg to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The trade breaks down like this:

Toronto obtains: Kris Versteeg (RW), Rights to Bill Sweatt (LW)

Chicago obtains: Viktor Stalberg (LW), Chris DiDomenico (C), Philippe Paradis (C)

The main piece here is, of course, Versteeg. Versteeg emerged the last two seasons in Chicago after once being a prospect of the Boston Bruins. The Bruins dealt Versteeg to Chicago infamously for journeyman forward Brandon Bochenski. The last two seasons with Chicago, Versteeg scored 22 goals in 08-09 and 20 goals last year finishing with 53 points in 08-09 and 44 points in 09-10. He’s a big time player and got caught up in the depth the Blackhawks had the last two seasons. He’ll get a chance to be a top six forward for the Maple Leafs and give Leafs opponents someone other than Phil Kessel to have to worry about.

Prospect Bill Sweatt just completed his final year at Colorado College last season where his four-year career line was 46 goals, 63 assists and 109 points. He was a 2007 second round pick by the Blackhawks.

The main piece going to Chicago in this package of youth is Viktor Stalberg. Stalberg in his first season out of the University of Vermont where he was a Hobey Baker Award finalist as a senior, was a training camp hero for the Leafs stunning everyone with his speed and offensive creativity. A lack of goal scoring finish doomed him early in the season and he was sent back to the AHL to work things out. Overall, he played in 40 games for the Leafs and had a scoring line of 9 goals, five assists and 14 points.

Chris DiDomenico and Philippe Paradis were two Leafs prospects who have yet to make their mark in the professional ranks. DiDomenico played last season for Drummondville in the QMJHL. Paradis, meanwhile, was originally a Hurricanes first round pick in 2007 who was then traded to Toronto as part of the Jiri Tlusty trade. Paradis spent most of last year in the QMJHL with Shawinigan before playing a small handful of games with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.

The major implication on this deal for Chicago is the effect on their salary cap and according to the newly updated CapGeek.com, the Blackhawks are sitting in shockingly good shape now $8 million under the salary cap. The Hawks will still have some holes to fill on defense, but burying Cristobal Huet and his bloated salary in the AHL may not be totally necessary now. As for the Leafs and their cap situation, they’re sitting at $53 million with only forward help to absolutely worry about.

Video: Josh Ho-Sang’s creativity gives Islanders a shot in the arm

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Honestly, after 10 games, the question shouldn’t be “can Josh Ho-Sang stick with the Islanders full-time?” Instead, the feeling is … what took so long for him to get this chance?

For all the grumbling about Ho-Sang sporting number 66, he’s provided serious bursts of brilliance and creativity for the Islanders, whether he’s been supporting or even setting up John Tavares.

The video above is some really good stuff, as it walks through his confident comments – and undeniable uncertainty – during the night he was drafted, all the way through him getting his chance with the Isles this season. Some of the best stuff comes from Doug Weight, who raves that Ho-Sang is a “five out of five” from an offensive standpoint.

Auston Matthews’ 33rd goal includes a dash of comedy (Video)

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This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)

On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.

William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.

Hnnngmgghh indeed.

That goal could end up being key as the Blue Jackets quickly scored to start the second period, shrinking Toronto’s lead to 2-1 on Wednesday.

Video: Leafs’ Carrick delivers thunderous hit on Blue Jackets’ Anderson

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Both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs have motivation to win their Wednesday game, but the Maple Leafs need it more.

So far, it shows, too.

The Maple Leafs have raced off to a 2-0 lead, with Auston Matthews scoring his 33rd goal of the season. If generating such offense didn’t highlight the urgency, Connor Carrick‘s huge hit on Josh Anderson makes a compelling argument. Witness that big impact in the video above.

There was also another high-impact moment when Nick Foligno went crashing into the boards:

Ouch, Blues consider Paul Stastny out week-to-week

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The St. Louis Blues announced that Paul Stastny is out week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

Stastny was limited to less than four minutes of ice time during last night’s 4-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche. Initially, head coach Mike Yeo indicated that the issue wasn’t serious.

There are only about three weeks left in the regular season, so it’s tough to tell if “week-to-week” would mean that the Blues will be without Stastny for any playoff time.

With Stastny out for an expended period of time and other injuries affecting Blues forwards, it sounds like Nail Yakupov gets another chance to prove himself:

Stastny generated 18 goals and 40 points in 66 games so far this season. He has played more of a defensive role this season (46.2 offensive zone start percentage after being closer to 50 earlier in his Blues days) and has been impressive in the dot, winning 53.8 of his faceoffs.