Hawks welcome back Versteeg in trade with Panthers
Last night, the Hawks turned heads by welcoming back Kris Versteeg from the Florida Panthers along with prospect Phillipe Lefebrve in exchange for forward Jimmy Hayes and defenseman Dylan Olsen.
Versteeg, a fan favorite, played a key role on the Hawk’s 2010 championship winning team, and was then a victim of the subsequent roster turnover due to the cap crunch that sent him to Toronto for former Hawk Viktor Stalberg. After playing briefly for the Leafs and Flyers, he found a spot in Florida for two years.
So what exactly did each team gain in the trade?
Acquired: Prospect Philippe Lefebrve and forward Kris Versteeg
Lefebrve, 22, has been assigned to a the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL. He previously played for the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones, where he has 2 goals and 6 points in 8 games.
Versteeg played on the third line while with the Hawks, and it is likely that that is where his role will be once again, slipping back into a system he has played with before under coach Joel Quenneville. Versteeg has at least 20 goals in four of his last five full seasons (last year he scored twice in 10 games due to injury and a shortened season). He may see some time on the PK as well, as the Hawks look to refine a system that has had difficulty maintaining consistency. Versteeg will likely play wing opposite Bryan Bickell with Andrew Shaw centering the two, creating a third line that can physical as well as have a scoring touch.
Acquired: Forward Jimmy Hayes and defenseman Dylan Olsen
Olsen, 22, was assigned to the Florida Panther’s minor league affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage, but with 28 games with the Blackhawks, he could see time with the NHL club if injuries or poor play warrant a chance.
Jimmy Hayes, 23, will join the Panthers for their next game against Minnesota. After a solid training camp with Chicago this year, Hayes remained with the team for just two games before being sent to the minors because of the team’s depth. Hayes, who has played 43 games in the NHL, all with Chicago, is a huge 6’6 forward known for his checking ability. Last year in Rockford, he had 25 goals and 45 points for the team.
So- which team won this trade?
In reality, both teams earn solid marks, as both addressed needs for their rosters. While Florida lost a 20-goal man in Versteeg, they gained youth and depth players needed to rebuild their team. Not to mention that both players are BIG- Olsen is 6’2 at 214 lbs. and Hayes is a towering 6’6 at 221 lbs. The Panthers aren’t looking good for a playoff race this year, so for now, they’re working on a complete rebuild, and GM Dale Tallon is continuing to make big changes after firing head coach Kevin Dineen.
While the Hawks lost depth in the trade, it was really that same depth that allowed them to make the trade. With players like Ben Smith, Jeremy Morin, Brad Mills, and Adam Clendening in the system and on the fringe of making NHL squads, it allowed Bowman to address an immediate need on a team looking to repeat as Stanley Cup champs. Another solid plus for the Hawks was that Florida retained half of Versteeg's original cap hit of 4.4 million a year, which made the deal a real bargain. Versteeg adds depth and versatility for a good fit anywhere in the lineup, and if he can find a home on the PK, that makes it even better. It’s too early to evaluate Lefebrve, but depth in the prospect pipeline is always a good thing.
Panthers win if: Hayes finds a solid spot on the 2nd, 3rd or 4th line, and Dylan Olsen makes the jump to the NHL this year.
Hawks win if: Versteeg lives up to previous performance, stays injury free, and helps an ailing PK unit.
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