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Pittsburgh Penguins' Colby Armstrong (L) fights with Ottawa Senators' Mike Comrie during the third period in Game 2 of NHL's Eastern Conference quarterfinal hockey game in Ottawa April 14, 2007. REUTERS/Shaun Best

SHAUN BEST

Brian Burke is still waiting for an acceptable offer for Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle but occupied himself in the meantime by signing free-agent winger Colby Armstrong on Thursday.

The former Atlanta Thrasher forward gives the Leaf general manager another gritty forward to go with Kris Versteeg, who was obtained from the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night, although at 6-foot-2, 195-pound Armstrong brings a little more size than the 5-foot-10 Versteeg.

Armstrong, 27, signed for three years at $3-million (all currency U.S.) per year. He had 15 goals and 29 points in 79 games last season, his second with the Thrashers.

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Versteeg, 24, was one of several players the Chicago Blackhawks were forced to trade after winning the Stanley Cup last month because they were over the NHL's projected salary cap of $59.4-million for next season. Burke sent forwards Viktor Stalberg, Chris DiDomenico and Phillipe Paradis to Chicago for Versteeg, a Lethbridge native who had 20 goals and 44 points for the Blackhawks in 2009-10, his second full NHL season.

"We've got a lot of talent, got a lot of young players like myself coming in ready to work hard and win," Versteeg said Thursday, who was then asked the inevitable question by someone on the conference call. "It would be awesome to win a Stanley Cup with the Leafs. I don't know what would happen in Toronto if they won a Stanley Cup. The roof would fall off the place."

First, though, Versteeg will get to spend Saturday with the Cup because he is still part of the Blackhawks' rotation for the honour. He will be taking it to his hometown.

"Yeah, it's going to be on Saturday so I've got a lot planned," he said. "It will be in Lethbridge."

Even though free-agent defencemen Sergei Gonchar, Paul Martin, Zbynek Michalek and Toni Lydman all signed in the early going Thursday, enough defencemen remained on the market to slow the pursuit of Kaberle. One of the top defence prizes, Dan Hamhuis, remained on the market, too, and it is believed Burke is taking a look at him.

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About the Author
Hockey columnist

A native of Wainfleet, Ont., David Shoalts joined The Globe in 1984 after working at the Calgary Herald, Calgary Sun and Toronto Sun. He graduated in 1978 from Conestoga College and also attended the University of Waterloo. More

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