Well, this is certainly out of left field. After wrapping up their 5-4 shootout win over the Phoenix Coyotes, the Blackhawks announced they have re-acquired former Blackhawk and 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Kris Versteeg, along with forward Phillipe Lefebrve from the Florida Panthers. In exchange for Versteeg, the Panthers will receive winger Jimmy Hayes and defenseman Dylan Olsen.
The 27-year old Versteeg has 2 goals and 7 assists in 18 games for the Panthers this season. Lefebrve will report to Toledo of the ECHL. When reached for comment, Versteeg responded, “Woooooowowowowowww!” probably.
“We are excited to bring Kris back to Chicago and are pleased to add a player with his experience and versatility to our lineup” said Vice President and General Manager Stan Bowman. “Kris is well respected within our organization and will be able to make a seamless transition to our team because of his familiarity with many of our players and with Coach Quenneville. This move strengthens our team depth and Kris’ skill is a great complement to our current roster.”
To say this move is a surprise is an understatement, but it’s an aggressive deal that makes the Blackhawks’ offense even more potent than it already has been. Versteeg figures to fit as the 3rd line winger along side Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell. Joel Quenneville was clearly unsatisfied with the 2-way play of winger Jeremy Morin, who will likely find himself in Rockford, or at best in the press box.
As for Hayes and Olsen, both got decent looks for the Blackhawks, and never seemed to fit. This was Hayes’ season to shine, and after a terrific training camp, his performance tapered off in the preseason and brief stint this regular season.
Versteeg has 3 years remaining (including this season), and carries a $4.4 million cap hit. However, Florida will carry half of his salary, so the cap hit for the Hawks is a very reasonable $2.2 million. With this move, the Blackhawks currently have $67,489 in cap space.
More as the story develops Friday.