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Blackhawks Fri Nov 15 2013

Versteeg and Blackhawks Reunite

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After spending three season with the Blackhawks from 2007 to just after the 2010 championship season, Kris Versteeg was sent packing to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Viktor Stålberg, Chris DiMonenico and Phillipe Paradis as a way to make cap room from then general manager Dale Tallon's free spending ways. Since then, Tallon was relieved of his duties and was hired by the Florida Panthers, he reacquired Versteeg in 2011, and has now sent him packing again -- but this time back to the Blackhawks.

The "Steeger" is back in town, just in time for both he and Patrick Kane to rekindle their bromance during the upcoming circus trip next week -- shirts optional. In return, the dismal Florida Panthers get forward Jimmy Hayes and defenseman Dylan Olsen. In addition to Versteeg, the Blackhawks also receive forward Phillipe Lefebvre. The team retroactively reassigned Jeremy Morin and Terry Broadhurst to Rockford.

Looking at Versteeg's performance this year should be done so with x-ray glasses in order to see through exactly where he's been playing. The Panthers only have won four games after 19 played and share the distinction with the Buffalo Sabres as being the doormat of the East.

With that said, Versteeg does carry a minus-9 on the season thus far, but that comes with a pretty bad defense behind him, allowing the third most goals in the league at an average of 3.32-per. Versteeg does have two goals and five assists on the year so far with Florida, but those numbers should climb skating alongside newly re-signed third-line center Andrew Shaw.

As far as Hayes and Olsen go (each had eight points with Rockford this season), they'll be missed, but ultimately will find more immediate paying time away from a team so deep in the Blackhawks. Hayes's big body and ability to score in front of the net will make him serviceable on a team lacking in size (Hayes now is the biggest person on the team at 6 feet, 6 inches; 221 pounds). Olsen is an assist machine and should help new teammate Tomas Fleischmann in puck distribution on the ice.

Let's also not forget the amount of talent in Rockford that at some point will need to come up and play. It's one of those situations where you hate to see some talent shipped out of town, but at the same time, there's enough young talent to make up for it in its place.

What puts the cherry on top of this trade is that Stan Bowman not only got a forward in Versteeg that will help the penalty kill, an area where the Blackhawks rank second to last in the league (a bleak 74.1 percent). Not to mention, Bowman used his savvy wheeling-and-dealing skills to get Tallon to eat half of Versteeg's $4.4 million over the next three seasons. Not bad work, Stan.

All of this coming off the heels of a Blackhawks shootout victory last night, against an improved Phoenix Coyotes squad, by the final of 5-4. The win put the Blackhawks in front of the Colorado Avalanche in the Central, and chipped one point closer to the Anaheim Ducks for the most points in the entire league (31 to the Blackhawks' 30).

The Blackhawks just got a little deeper on an already deep team. With Sharp-Toews-Hossa on the first line; Saad-Pirri-Kane on the second line; and Bickell-Shaw-Versteeg on the third line, you'd be hard-pressed not to be confident with that lineup rolling through the heart of the season and into the playoffs. All in all, a really good trade -- welcome back, Steeger.

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