On November 15th Chicago Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman went out and addressed an issue. The Blackhawks had a hole on the right wing with the third line. Bowman traded Jimmy Hayes and Dylan Olsen to the Florida Panthers for Kris Versteeg. The stars had aligned and the prodigal son returned to the Blackhawks. Versteeg aka Steeger was home! The Blackhawks were getting a player who had played on the top line with the Maple Leafs, Flyers, and Panthers.
The homecoming has not been what the Blackhawks faithful expected. We expected a productive player that we used to have. Versteeg spent three (two full) seasons with the Blackhawks. In 2008-09, he tallied 22 goals and 31 assists for 53 points that season. In 2009-10, he tallied 20 goals and 24 assists for 44 points this season. These numbers were on the third line. Versteeg only had one better season in his career than the two seasons with the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks have not gotten the same Versteeg they traded away. The song” celebration” that was playing when the Blackhawks acquired Versteeg has now been replaced by “It gets better”. There has not been much offensive production from Versteeg. In 27 games with the Blackhawks Versteeg has recorded only SIX goals and TEN assists. Versteeg has mainly been playing on the second line due to the Bryan Bickell injury. Versteeg has been paired with Patrick Kane and Michal Handzus. Kane has been first of the month in November and December. For the season, Versteeg has EIGHT goals and 15 assists. With the season more than half over, this is not the type of production the Blackhawks expected when they reacquired Versteeg.
One of the reasons for Versteeg’s struggles could be attributed to playing with the SUPER slow Handzus. Handzus has been hampering Kane’s production as well. Another reason for Versteeg’s struggles could be lingering effects from the knee surgery he had last season. Versteeg did say recently that his knee feels good and strong, but he might not be telling the full story.
On the other side of the coin, Olsen is on injured reserve currently with Florida. In 17 games with the Florida, he has tallied three goals and six assists. Jimmy Hayes has four goals and one assist in 22 games. The Blackhawks have not been getting great results from Versteeg, but the Panthers are not getting much in return either.
Perhaps the Marcus Kruger move to the second line center position will benefit Versteeg, but only time will tell. All I know is that the Blackhawks NEED and WANT more production from Versteeg.
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LETS GO HAWKS!