Kris Versteeg is quickly proving to be a good get for the Carolina Hurricanes. After notching two assists in Friday night’s 3-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche, Versteeg is tied with Justin Faulk for the team lead in points with seven. He is exactly the kind of player that the Canes needed to add as general manager Ron Francis puts together the pieces of his team rebuilding project.
The trade in September that brought Versteeg to Carolina from the Chicago Blackhawks was pretty much under the radar as far as big trade news goes. But, for the Hurricanes, it was a big trade. They got Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom in exchange for Dennis Robertson and Jake Massie. Both also traded a future draft pick in the deal.
Francis Makes a Good Move
Of course getting Versteeg is not on the level of getting a Jonathan Toews or a Patrick Kane, but he brings to Carolina the taste of recent Stanley Cup Final wins and a veteran presence that the younger players need in the locker room. The added bonus is that part of his $4,400,000 salary is retained by the Florida Panthers.
At the time Francis said this about Versteeg:
“Kris is a skilled forward who has won a pair of Cups with the Blackhawks and can provide veteran leadership in our room.”
Ronnie was right. Versteeg has brought much-needed stability to a forward line that is still struggling to find its groove this season. His seven-point tally so far is not setting any kind of record pace, but the ‘Canes need all the help they can get, and they are getting it in part from Versteeg.
Versteeg is not old by NHL standards (29). He was a fifth-round pick by the Boston Bruins in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. At 5 feet 11 inches and 176 pounds, he’s not big like Jordan Staal, but he is quick and knows where to go on the ice.
Versteeg has 116 goals and 159 assists in 473 career NHL games. He has been with the Blackhawks twice – helping them win the Cup both times. He’s also skated with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers and Panthers.
If the Staals and Skinner…
This season has started much better for the Hurricanes than last. They won zero games last October and are 5-6 heading into November this season. Certainly a vast improvement over last year when the team was dealing with the sudden loss of Jordan Staal to a broken leg and concussion recovery with Jeff Skinner.
The problem is that the Staal brothers and Skinner are languishing. They have provided very little offensive production thus far. Eric Staal has six points – three goals and three assists. Jordan Staal has two assists and Skinner has two goals and one assist. His goal Friday night was tremendous against the Avalanche, but there has got to be more from these three if the ‘Canes are to continue to win.
Versteeg is doing his part and I believe will grow into the Bill Peters system and continue to contribute to the Hurricanes.
Kris Versteeg: "We're finding our identity." #Canes
— Cardiac Cane (@CardiacCane) October 31, 2015
If the Staals and Skinner would find their offense, this team could be surprisingly competitive. Either way, Versteeg appears to be right at home in Raleigh, and the Hurricanes are glad to have him.
Mark lives in the Raleigh, NC area and covers the Carolina Hurricanes.