Numbers Game: Blackhawks bring back Versteeg

Scott Cullen
11/15/2013 1:17:24 AM
Decrease Text SizeIncrease Text Size
Text Size

The Chicago Blackhawks made a move, dealing with former GM Dale Tallon to re-acquire a member of their 2010 Stanley Cup team.

Numbers Game looks at the deal sending Kris Versteeg to the Blackhawks for a couple of prospects.

The Blackhawks Get: RW Kris Versteeg and LW Philippe Lefebvre.

Versteeg, 27, is off to a relatively slow start this season, with two goals, seven points and a minus-9 rating in 18 games, but there are reasons to actually be positive about his play, even as he is coming back from reconstructive knee surgery.

First off, Versteeg has relatively strong possession stats, and was horribly unlucky, particularly on the defensive end, where Panthers goaltenders provided an abysmal .871 even-strength save percentage with Versteeg on the ice. In the offensive end, Versteeg has scored on a carer-low 4.3% of his shots. Since he has scored on 11.9% of his shots over the course of his career, it's reasonable to expect that rate to go up.

Additionally, it could be troubling if Versteeg's low point production was a function of not getting opportunities, perhaps indicating that he can't even get into scoring position, but that's not the case. Versteeg has a career-high 2.61 shots on goal per game despite playing a career-low 15:42 per game for the Panthers.

Versteeg also hasn't had a great deal of consistency in terms of linemates in Florida. His most common linemates have been C Scott Gomez and LW Jonathan Huberdeau, but has also spent time with rookie C Aleksander Barkov, LW Tomas Fleischmann, LW Scottie Upshall and C Marcel Goc.

In Chicago, Versteeg can slide into a third-line role, but has the skill to work on the power play and move up the lineup if need be. He's a four-time 20-goal scorer who finished the 2011-2012 season with a career-high 54 points.

Since leaving Chicago in the summer of 2010, Versteeg has played for Toronto, Philadelphia and Florida.

The Panthers will eat half of what remains on Versteeg's contract (and cap hit) through the life of the deal, which runs through the 2015-2016 season. Half of his four-year, $17.6-million deal counts as $2.2-million per year against the cap, with a slightly higher cash outlay over the next couple seasons.

Lefebvre is an undrafted 22-year-old winger who has split his time between the AHL and ECHL in his first two pro campaigns. He has 18 points in 92 AHL games, so he's a longshot to be anything more than a minor-league contributor. His inclusion in the deal is likely more about giving the Panthers flexibility since they have 48 (of a possible 50) players under contract.

The Panthers Get: RW Jimmy Hayes and D Dylan Olsen.

Hayes, who turns 24 next week, is a 6-foot-6 winger who hasn't been able to stick as a regular with the Blackhawks, but has 13 points and relatively unimpressive possession numbers in 43 career NHL games, though he has tallied 29 goals and 53 points in 80 AHL games since the start of last season.

It could be an interesting fit if the Panthers were to pair Hayes with 6-foot-6 C Nick Bjugstad, a mix of towering collegiate forwards who have some skill to go with their size. Even if Hayes fits lower on the depth chart, he should get a legitimate opportunity to prove that he's capable of handling an NHL job.

Olsen, a 22-year-old who was a first-round pick in 2009, played 28 games for the Blackhawks in 2011-2012, finishing with one assist and minus-5 rating. He has 30 points in 152 AHL games since leaving the University of Minnesota-Duluth and needs to play a steadier game if he's going to be anything more than a fringe NHLer.

It's understandable that the Panthers, in a rebuilding mode, don't necessarily see the value in a 27-year-old winger who is on the wrong end of percentages early this season, not viewing Versteeg as part of the solution to their current problems.

But even if that is the case, it's fair to question a process that brings two Tallon draft picks (from his time as Blackhawks GM) as the return, particularly when the Panthers were willing to take on half of the financial obligation due to Versteeg over the next two-and-three-quarter seasons. Maybe Hayes and Olsen are going to make it as NHLers in South Florida, but it appears that what made them most qualified for this trade is that they were familiar commodities to the Panthers general manager.

Scott Cullen can be reached at and followed on Twitter at For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

Cabbie on

New York-bred hip hop artist Action Bronson discusses his friendship with Kevin Love, his jumpshot, Mike Napoli's beard, obscure sports references and Derek Jeter's Brand Jordan commercial. More...

He has speed in his DNA, learn more about Olympic champion Donovan Bailey's nephew, Jaden and his success on the gridiron in the latest Powerade 24. More...

© 2017
All rights reserved.
Bell Media Television