TORONTO – The Chicago Blackhawks have unloaded another key player that helped them win the Stanley Cup, sending right-winger Kris Versteeg to Toronto in a five-player deal Wednesday night.
The Maple Leafs also acquired the rights to left-winger Bill Sweatt in exchange for forwards Viktor Stalberg, Chris DiDomenico and Philippe Paradis.
Versteeg, 24, recorded 44 points (20 goals, 24 assists) in 79 regular-season games for the Blackhawks. He added 14 points (6-8) in 22 post-season games.
The deal comes a week after Chicago shipped playoff star Dustin Byfuglien to Atlanta along with Brent Sopel and Ben Eager. The Blackhawks also recently shipped Colin Fraser to Edmonton.
Over parts of the last three seasons with Chicago, Versteeg has 101 points (44-57) and 96 penalty minutes in 170 regular-season games.
Led by young stars such as Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the Blackhawks beat Philadelphia for their first Stanley Cup title since 1961, but they were hardly a two-man show.
Chicago had one of the deepest rosters in the league last season but with major salary-cap issues, changes were expected.
Kane and Toews signed contract extensions with the Blackhawks in December _ five-year deals worth US$31.5 million each. Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet are also signed to lucrative long-term deals.
Sweatt, 21, was selected with the 38th overall pick of the 2007 NHL entry draft. He has completed four NCAA seasons at Colorado College and has 109 points (46-63) in 143 games.
Stalberg, 24, had nine goals and five assists in 40 games last season, his first in the NHL. He added 33 points (12-21) in 39 games with the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies.
Paradis, 19, spent the last three seasons with the Shawinigan Cataractes of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He had 44 points (24-20) in 63 games last season.
DiDomenico, 21, had 22 points (7-15) in 12 regular-season games with the QMJHL’s Drummondville Voltigeurs. He added 21 points (7-14) in 14 post-season games.