Editorials

Chicago Blackhawks: Kris Versteeg’s Role Still to be Determined

By Jimmy Lynch
Chicago Blackhawks right wing Kris Versteeg (23) celebrates with the Stanley Cup Monday, June 15, 2015 after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final at United Center. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Chicago Blackhawks right wing Kris Versteeg (23) celebrates with the Stanley Cup Monday, June 15, 2015 after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final at United Center. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images) /
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The Chicago Blackhawks have another reunion tour on their hands. Kris Versteeg‘s role in 2019-20 is still to be determined.

The Chicago Blackhawks treat their alumni very well. Patrick Sharp and Adam Burish found a home in broadcasting, Sheldon Brookbank is now a coach, and so many others are always at events and signing autographs. One alumni that intrigues me moving forward is Kris Versteeg.

The Blackhawks signed Versteeg to an AHL contract this offseason. The Rockford IceHogs seemingly have a stacked roster, with an influx of high upside players getting their first taste of professional hockey this season.

Versteeg, a two-time Stanley Cup champ, would provide the veteran leadership that these young prospects need at this stage of their development.

Based on what happens during the preseason and regular season, we may see Kris Versteeg find his way back to Chicago at some point. It’s not a for sure thing, but the possibility is there.

He made this penalty shot look ridiculously easy just two days ago at the Blackhawks’ Training Camp fest scrimmage.

Kris Versteeg signed an AHL contract this offseason to play for the Rockford IceHogs, but the move was a bit of a head-scratcher. Why just an AHL contract? There’s a lot of questions surrounding this move.

Versteeg has not played in the NHL since the 2017-18 NHL season. He went to play overseas for a season. Versteeg believes he still has a lot of playing ability left in him, so why would he sign with a team to only play in the AHL?

An AHL contract is between the AHL club and the player, with no conjunction to an NHL franchise. If Versteeg was to play a game for the Blackhawks this season, he would first need to sign with the team. When I said Versteeg is apart of the Blackhawks’ alumni, even though he still is playing, it was a fact.

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Versteeg, 33, has played in 643 NHL games, with all different types of scenarios. He has also played in 93 playoff games, winning the Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2010 and 2015.

Versteeg has done it all across his NHL career and is ready to pass that knowledge on to the next generation of Chicago Blackhawks players.

Kris Versteeg got his start with the Blackhawks in Rockford. After being traded by the Boston Bruins to Chicago, Versteeg played most of the 2007-08 season in Rockford.

He learned how to play the game there and grew as a player. He has been where new young Blackhawks are at right now.

In an ideal world, the Blackhawks’ top rookies would make the NHL team this year, but that might not happen for all of them, so they will be in Rockford.

Having a player like Versteeg around to help these players grow and shape them the way the Blackhawks want them to be will only improve the team.

Similar to Bryan Campbell working with Adam Boqvist, the Blackhawks organization now has a leader in Rockford to be their eyes and ears in the locker room. Versteeg is one great alum for the Blackhawks.

Not only is he a mentor to younger players, but he is also a scout for the organization on their talent and a coach on the ice.

Maybe I’m wrong and Versteeg ends up with the Blackhawks this season. I’m sure he could make an impact on the team and score a few goals this season.

He could also make an impact on the organization by helping develop the next generation of goal scorers and defenders in Rockford. Him playing in Rockford is the more likely of the two scenarios.

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