There is a lot going on in the NHL today, but it appears the Edmonton Oilers have extended an actual NHL contract to professional tryout candidate Kris Versteeg. Versteeg was in the Oilers camp on a PTO and missed the last couple games with a minor injury. He was back at practice today, is a bit better than day-to-day and with the exit of winger Nail Yakupov, the spot became Versteeg’s to lose. He clearly played well enough to keep it.
Just spoke with Kris Versteeg. Sounds very much like a guy with a contract agreed to in EDM. We will wait for announcement.
— Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) October 10, 2016
Versteeg in the NHL
While Versteeg hasn’t blown the socks off of other NHL right wingers in terms of production, he is a strong addition for the Oilers who had a need at right wing. With a combination of Jordan Eberle, Zack Kassian and Jesse Puljujarvi, Edmonton’s depth at right wing is much more established. Only Puljujarvi remains a question mark and that’s only because he may see some time in the AHL this season.
Versteeg has played 550 NHL games, has 313 regular season points and has won two Stanley Cups. He’s not big, but he is gritty. In the preseason, he rotated around on different lines, played different positions, and was used sparingly at the point on the power play. He’ll round out Edmonton’s top-nine forward group in a major way and may see significant time in the top-six based on the production of a few other players on the team.
How We Got Here
Versteeg signed a deal with the Swiss League this summer, essentially putting an end to his NHL career. He was one of the earlier free agent exits which surprised a number of NHL teams who would have considered him as a viable option later into the summer. Unfortunately for Versteeg, due to earlier NHL injury complications, he could no longer sign in the Swiss League due to insurance reasons. He’s coming back to the NHL 100 percent healthy as a free agent and it looks like the Oilers are his team of choice on a PTO.
The NHL waiver wire today made things interesting. A lot of viable names on right wing appeared as available, including P.A. Parenteau from the New York Islanders and Teemu Pulkkinen from the Detroit Red Wings. Both would be viable options for Edmonton, who have a prime position based on their finish last season to make a claim.
The Oilers signing Versteeg means that Edmonton is, at most, interested in only one of these players. There’s a good chance the Oilers pass on both and if they do, they have high hopes for Versteeg and where he’ll play in the lineup. The next step would be to figure out the dollar value for Versteeg.
There is a small concern that in trading Yakupov, Versteeg now has a bit of leverage in any contract negotiation. The reality is, he doesn’t. Coming off a PTO and with other right-wingers available off the waiver wire today, Versteeg should come in right around $1 million on a one-year deal. It’s a good bet for the Oilers and if he can stay healthy, and it should become a value contract over the length of the 2016-17 season.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”