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Laviolette excited to land Versteeg

Monday, 02.14.2011 / 9:05 PM / 2011 Trade Deadline

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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Laviolette excited to land Versteeg
After watching Kris Versteeg hoist the Stanley Cup last season, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette is thrilled to now have the 24-year-old winger on his side.
Philadelphia Flyers coach Peter Laviolette has plenty of time to fill out the lineup card for Tuesday's game at Tampa Bay, but he's hoping he can add Kris Versteeg's name before the puck drops at the St. Pete Times Forum.

"I have not talked to him yet, and I just spoke with (Flyers GM) Paul (Holmgren) briefly tonight, (but) I don't see a reason why he wouldn't be in the lineup," Laviolette said of Versteeg, who was acquired from Toronto on Monday in exchange for a first- and third-round pick at the 2011 Entry Draft. "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."

Laviolette knows his newest player awfully well. Versteeg, who had 35 points (14 goals, 21 assists) in 53 games for the Maple Leafs this season, faced the Flyers as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks in last year's Stanley Cup Final. Versteeg had 14 points in 22 playoff games, helping the Blackhawks hoist the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1961.

"He's a tenacious guy that does a lot of things well," Laviolette said. "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 (Claude) Giroux, he plays with a (Mike) Richards … I'm not sure if I'm going to do anything with (Danny) 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."

As far as the Flyers are concerned, the best part about Versteeg's acquisition is that Eastern Conference leaders didn't give up a current NHL player to land the 24-year-old's services. While some might still consider it a steep price to pay, Laviolette is pleased that he didn't have to say goodbye to anybody on Monday night.

"I know that not having to take something from the locker room will not disrupt anything we had going right now," the Flyers' coach said. "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. 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 (Jeff) Carters and the JVRs (James van Riemsdyk) 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."
"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." -- Peter Laviolette on Kris Versteeg
And, of course, it never hurts to bring in a player who has a Stanley Cup championship on his resume.

"I think when you bring in experienced players, I think it helps," Laviolette said. "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."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
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