Some players just find their niche after a few wandering years, and thankfully for Kris Versteeg he seems to have found his.
In his first 4 seasons, he has been on 4 different teams with one Stanley Cup and a Calder Trophy nomination to his name. Your guess is as good as mine why the youngster is so easily parted with by NHL clubs, especially after watching him tear it up with the Florida Panthers for the first 9 games of this season:
6 Power play points
Before I go any further, I want to say that I do not believe Versteeg is going to score 100+ points based on his start. The Panthers are clicking offensively and his point totals are a result of that. However, Versteeg has never been given a real chance of playing on a top line and he is getting that chance in Florida. Last season with the Maple Leafs he was technically on the “top line” with Phil Kessel, but let’s face it – the Maple Leafs top line last season was MacArthur-Grabovski-Kulemin because they did not have a quality center for Kessel and Versteeg.
Playing alongside Steven Weiss in South Beach has re-ingnited the once promising rising star. He is averaging 18:38 of time on ice, and 4:12 minutes on the power play. Compare that to the 2:52 minutes on the PP last year, and the neighbourhood of 15 minutes per game total he received from February through April of last season after being dealt from Toronto. Prior to that, he he averaged 15:43 minutes of TOI in Chicago two seasons ago.
Needless to say, his situation in Florida is affording him much more opportunities and he is making the best of it in the early going. I would add him for the next couple of weeks and make a judgement call from there. If you find a buyer in a trade, you should deal him while his value is high.
Prediction: 55-60 points, 20 to 25 PPP, +5 rating, 30 PIM
Photo Credit: Zimbio