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Checking on Versteeg and some recent “ex-Leafs” and their playoff performances so far

Leaf fans probably range from passionately interested to mildly engaged in the ongoing NHL playoffs.  Some might have an alternate rooting interest given that the leafs are not involved, some just want to see great hockey, some may be cheering for Canadian teams or against teams they just don’t like.

Whatever, it’s a great time of year to be a hockey fan, even if the Leafs are not in the mix.

Now, on that note, the Leafs have moved a lot of people in the last two years to create what they have now—a young, emerging team with the potential to do some damage in the years to come.  Potential is nice, but actual future success assumes some further upgrades, which I think we can rest assured are “on the way”.

It’s taken longer than Burke wanted, or fans were hoping, but it is coming.  And the hope is that when the team turns the corner, it will be a force for years to come.

That said, it’s still fun (for me at least) to look at how some recent former Leafs have done or are doing with their current teams in the NHL playoffs.  I use the word “recent” because someone like Steve Sullivan with the Preds, well, his departure goes back a couple administrations ago, so that doesn’t quite count.

It doesn’t necessarily mean fans wish these guys were still with the blue and white (that question for you comes later), but it’s interesting to note how they’re doing.


The Coyotes were gone in four against the Red Wings.  Ex-Leaf winger Lee Stempniak went pointless in the series, averaging about 12+ minutes a game.  He finished the series a minus 3.

We all remember he was on a roll when he joined the Coyotes and put up a lot of points in their playoff push last season.  While he certainly has contributed, he wasn’t a major point-producer this past season, though he did net 19 goals.


Kris Versteeg, (click on his name to see my earlier post wondering why the Leafs traded him) who turns 25 next month was one of Burke’s significant off-season acquisitions last summer.  He then flipped the young winger for a first and third-rounder in this coming June's entry draft.

Perhaps mis-used in Toronto, Versteeg seems to remain an enigma, a guy who was a solid contributor to the Hawks in their run to the Cup a year ago, yet already with his fourth NHL organization.

Through the first six games against the Sabres, Versteeg is a plus 5, with 4 assists, including the huge helper on the Game 6 OT winner.  He played close to 20 minutes in Game 5, after playing lesser minutes through the first four games of the series.  He also took a huge hit to clear the puck from the Flyer zone and possible danger in the second period of Game 6.

Tampa Bay

Pavel Kubina was probably not the right fit here in Toronto, though he has been a solid performer elsewhere.  Right now with the improving Lightning, through five games against the injury-riddled Penguins, Kubina has 2 goals and 1 assist, and is “even”, after being a minus 4 in the first three games of the series.  He’s playing about 16/17 minutes a night, on average

Dominic Moore is a player I like and it’s too bad he held out for a better contract with the Leafs and actually got less than if he had stayed and accepted Burke’s offer a couple of years ago.  He remains a useful player wherever he goes.

With the Lightning, Moore has two points in the playoffs (scoreless in the first four games against Pittsburgh) and is minus 1.  He is playing significant minutes, though, still an effective role player.


Jason Blake didn't play big minutes most nights, but he earned 4 points against the Preds, including three big goals (his Game 5 goal could have been a game-winner). He was a minus 3 overall in the series.

Francois Beauchemin never quite provided with many Leaf fans seemed to want in his not-quite two seasons with the Leafs.  He was probably a guy who was, like some others over the past two seasons, miscast in his role out of necessity by management during his time here.

Back in Anaheim where he helped the Ducks win a Stanley Cup a few years ago, he has certainly contributed. He chipped in offensively in the series with three points, including a goal.  He finished the series a plus 1, averaging about 23 minutes a night.

While the Leafs should like the deal long-term (Lupul, Gardiner and a pick), he provided the Ducks with solid-minutes defense, which is exactly what they needed, short-term.


Victor Stalberg was a guy we barely got to really know in Toronto.  He put up modest numbers with the Hawks furing the regular season, but was a plus player.

He has scored one goal in the series against Chicago, and is "even".  He has played five games out of six, about a dozen minutes a night.

San Jose

Ian White was a Leaf a lot of us liked because he played hard and really came on in his time with the blue and white.  He was not a big guy so it was nice to see him make an impact. (I once compared him in a piece here with former Blackhawk rearguard Pat Stapleton, who was a key member of Team Canada ’72.  Click on Stapleton's name to read that earlier post.)

White has moved a lot, from Toronto to Calgary to Carolina and then San Jose.  Why, I don’t know, but with the Sharks, he has shown well in the playoffs so far.

Despite missing almost two games with an injury, he has earned five assists and is a plus 3, playing important minutes through four games that he has played.

Kyle Welwood

I’m not sure of the statute of limitations applies here, in terms of whether we can consider Kyle a “recent” ex-Leaf.

He seems to be playing on the third line as a checking winger with the Sharks, a seeming departure from his days as an offensively-oriented center for the blue and white.

Still he has (a surprise to some) contributed to the Sharks being up 3 games to 2 in the series with the Kings, with three assists (and a plus 3) to date.


Tuuka Rask has yet to start a game for the Bruins, but we’ll see if they turn to him iof they advance and Thomas is extended.

I’ve posted on Kaberle.  He has struggled (click to read more) in the playoffs, and seen his minutes drop off sharply since Game 1. He has picked up a couple of assists and is “even” in five playoff games but was part of some near defensive disasters in Game 5, though Boston managed to win in double-overtime.

He just doesn’t look confident out there, and appears more like the nervous, unsure rookie than the composed veteran the Leafs probably hoped they were getting.

We'll see if he is able to regain his confidence and step up more, if Boston can advance.


Bryan McCabe, like Kaberle, hadn't been in a playoff game in years.  No longer the dominant top-pairs guy with a contending team, he played somewhat lesser minutes in the playoffs against Washington (though still about 19 minutes a game) compared with his halcyon days with the blue and white, as the Rangers bowed in 5 games to the talented Capitals.

Los Angeles

Alex Ponikarovsky was a frustrating Leaf for many years, as we waited and waited for him to comebine his talent with consistent intensity and effort.  It didn’t happen here, and doesn’t appear to be happening with the Kings.

Poni has one goal in four games and is a plus one an was playing about 10 minutes a night through the first four games of the series, taking a back seat to others who are stepping up for the young Kings, and was a healthy scratch for the pivotal Game 5 Saturday night.

Jamal Mayers

Mayers, part of the deal that brought Aulie and Phaneuf to Toronto, is on the fourth line with the Sharks.  He is pointless and a minus 4 in the first five games of the series.

Numbers and “stats” alone, of course, don’t always tell the tale.  A guy may have lousy numbers but be making an important contribution (blocking shots, not causing turnovers, etc.).

Now, from what I have been able to follow and observe, the guy who has maybe been playing the best hockey of all the above is Ian White.  Some guys have had good individual games, but he seems to be playing key minutes for a good Sharks team and handling the playoff intensity very well.  But as the Flyers fight to stay alive, Vertseeg's contributions shouldn't be ignored, either.

The question, if posed, might be: is there any one of the above- all playing in the playoffs while the Leafs are admittedly not- guys you, as a Leaf fan, would want back?


  1. No question about it: Ian White is the one I'd want back. Aside from the fact that right-handed defencemen are a rare commodity, White gave maximum effort in his time with the Leafs and is still young enough to fit into the rebuild. And, while Mike Brown has replaced the moustachulence he brought to the team (and then some), you simply can't have too much of a good thing.

    As for Rask, it's not so much that I want him back, but that I want to go back in time and reverse that trade, which gave us the Raycroft/Toskala era and cost so much to solve in terms of buyouts and draft picks.

  2. Every time I see Sully name appear in the stats sheet it makes me sick with envy. And to think that Quinn let him go for nothing for lazy Khristich. If I had to pick a more recent Leaf it would be White who reminded me lot of Tim Horton when he played with the Leafs. Sadly for we Leafs fans, after being bounce around a little it looks like Wellwood finally gets it!

  3. I don't think there's any time limit on who qualifies for this "ex-Leaf" list -once a Leaf, always listable!
    Ian White would be my choice as returnee, but I wouldn't mind seeing Stalberg back, either. He might fit in well with the new-look Leafs.

  4. Obviously not in the playoffs this year, but every time I watch Alex Steen play this year, I regretted losing him.