The Chicago Blackhawks have traded forwards Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom along with a third-round draft pick to the Carolina Hurricanes for defensemen Dennis Robertson and Jake Massie and a fifth-round draft selection. The team announced the news via Twitter.
This move is merely an attempt to shed enough salary to re-sign forward Marcus Kruger.
Versteeg played for the 2010 and 2015 Stanley Cup championship teams, but had grown out of favor with head coach Joel Quenneville. After leaving the ’Hawks during the 2010 offseason, Versteeg was re-acquired three years later in a trade with the Florida Panthers. He played in 124 games the past two seasons, registering 24 goals and 39 assists as a depth winger. His 34 points were the eighth most on the roster last season.
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The problem with Versteeg was his price tag. The ’Hawks were due to pay Versteeg $2.2 million of his overall $4.4 million cap hit for the final year of his contract.
Just nine days ago, the Hawks had re-signed Nordstrom to a one-year deal worth $605,000. The depth forward was an expendable prospect for the ’Hawks in the deal, as he was a player who bounced around between the NHL and the Rockford IceHogs.
The Blackhawks are trying to reassemble their defensive corps and received two young defensemen as compensation for Versteeg and Nordstrom. Robertson, 24, was drafted in the sixth round of the 2011 draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs. He has yet to play in a professional game and has spent the past two seasons with the Charlotte Checkers in the AHL after playing four seasons of college hockey at Brown. Robertson tallied three goals and 14 assists in 57 games for the Checkers a year ago.
Robertson might get a shot at making the roster in training camp next week, but his inexperience at the professional level in his mid-2os is a bit alarming. The Blackhawks do need help at their fifth and sixth defensemen spots and perhaps see some upside in the Ivy League product.
Massie was a sixth-round pick in the 2015 draft by the Hurricanes and is only 18-years-old. He is the type of prospect Stan Bowman loves and could be a developmental project down the road. He spent the 2014-15 season with Kimball Union Academy and the Boston Junior Bruins U18 squad. According to Elite Hockey Prospects, Massie will spend the 2015-16 season with the Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League. Massie is likely far away from making his NHL debut.
This is a straight-up salary dump for the Blackhawks. Nordstrom and Robertson’s salaries essentially cancel each other out and Massie’s salary impact is minimal. The Blackhawks get rid of about $2 million in salary, which will be enough to re-sign Kruger to at least a short-term contract. They probably aren’t getting much back in return, but the ability to bring back Kruger is a good enough reason to say goodbye again to Versteeg.
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Apr 25, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Kris Versteeg (23) skates with the puck against the Nashville Predators during second period in game six of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports