Almost immediately following the Chicago Blackhawks entertaining 5-4 shootout victory over the Phoenix Coyotes, we learned that the Blackhawks had re-acquired Kris Versteeg. You don’t have to look far back in Blackhawks history to remember Versteeg, he grew into a top 6 role between 2008-10 seasons in Chicago. With Kris Versteeg finally back in black…hawks red, the team’s already potent offense has an opportunity to become truly dominant, and it gives Versteeg an opportunity to re-establish his offensive game that was sidetracked by injuries and a weak supporting cast in Florida.
The Chicago Blackhawks acquire:
F Kris Versteeg, F Philip Lefebvre
The Florida Panthers acquire:
F Jimmy Hayes, D Dylan Olsen
*The Florida Panthers retain salary on Kris Versteeg’s contract for the duration of said contract.
Many ‘Hawks fans were endeared to Versteeg after his 14 points in 22 playoff games in 2010, he was well liked in the dressing room and a budding offensive star. When the cap reality of Chicago’s situation set in after winning the 2010 Stanley Cup, Versteeg was among many regulars that saw themselves shipped out of Chicago. Fans can now snatch up Blackhawks tickets and see Versteeg again.
Versteeg was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a deal that saw Viktor Stalberg come the other way. It was in Toronto that Versteeg showcased his impressive offensive skills while being given ample ice time and quality offensive zone starts.
With the Maple Leafs Versteeg returned to a point per game average above .65 but his time in Toronto was short lived as after 53 games he was shipped off to Philadelphia. With the Flyers Versteeg was once again in a similar situation as he had in Chicago, stuck behind more skilled players on the depth chart and largely played a top 9 role with the club. Following the Flyers decision on Jaromir Jagr, Versteeg was once again on the move that off season.
Versteeg was reunited with former Blackhawks GM Dave Tallon in Florida for the 2011-12 season and once again proved an effective top 6 forward when give the ice time. Versteeg had 54 points in 71 games and played a large role in ending the Panthers playoff drought. Injuries have limited Versteeg ever since but he has proven that he can jump right in and produce when put in an offensive role.
Back in Chicago Versteeg may find himself on the outside looking in in terms of the top 6 forwards but he has proven a capable top 9 player and has shown chemistry in the past with most of the Blackhawks offensive stars. Every time he has been put into an offensive role he has thrived and given the Blackhawks deep group of forwards, playing with skilled players is a guarantee in the top 9 group.
Only time will tell how Versteeg’s game responds to being back with the Blackhawks but given the price tag and his track record it seems like a very low risk high reward move for Chicago. The team is thriving playing in the most competitive division in the NHL, and adding a familiar face like Kris Versteeg only has fans looking forward as this team has a bright future ahead.
Creator of the Bettman Stand Up hockey blog. I cover the Chicago Blackhawks for The Hockey Writers, In Hossa we trust! I also write for publications such as Arbitrage Magazine and Elite Sports Blog. You can follow me on Twitter @RickEmrith