As surprising as it is to hear, and as unlikely as it may be, Kris Versteeg‘s name has surfaced in trade rumors for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Part of last year’s Stanley Cup-winning squad, Versteeg established himself as a fan favorite in the Windy City, with a penchant for making fun of Patrick Kane and (poorly) rapping. A Calder Trophy candidate once upon a time in Chicago, “Steeger” found himself as a cap casualty last summer, and was shipped to Toronto in the deal that brought back Viktor Stalberg.
Versteeg is on pace to have a year quite similar to his last in Chicago in ’09-’10. He’s notched 31 points on the season, including 12 goals. His only blemish is the minus-15, but that’s understandable when you take into account who he plays for.
Despite the fact that a rumor like this doesn’t typically have any legs, and is terribly unlikely, it’s still fun to speculate. There only really are two ways to look at a potential deal like this, either it’s good or bad.
Why It’s Good
Plain and simple: chemistry. Versteeg was an awesome guy in the clubhouse last year, and it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t bring that same presence back with him. On a team that seems to have struggled with chemistry, he’d certainly be a great (re)addition to Chicago’s roster.
He would also provide a solid upgrade over some of these Chicago wingers that haven’t lived up to their billing. Jack Skille tries hard, but doesn’t pass the puck. Viktor Stalberg needs to have a missing persons report filed because he hasn’t been seen for months. Putting John Scott on a forward line is that “stupid and futile gesture” that Eric Stratton described in Animal House. Then again, there’s always Jeremy Morin.
Why It’s Bad
This one’s easy. Versteeg costs too much. His cap hit is about three million dollars, which is a little more than two million over what the Blackhawks have available. They’d have to deal NHL caliber talent with decent money on their contract. Skille is an obvious choice. Maybe Dave Bolland? As nice as his contract would look coming off of the books, it’s unlikely given that Chicago is already thin in the middle.
Then there’s the mater of where to put him. Sure, you could throw him on the bottom lines as an upgrade over a Skille or Stalberg, but would he be okay with that?
At the end of the day, Versteeg to the Hawks is about as likely as Colin Farrell in a box office smash. Given that the Blackhawks’ more glaring needs are at center and defense, it’s unlikely that a winger, especially one with a three million dollar cap hit, would be Chicago’s first choice for a deadline addition. Still, it’s fun for fans to think of old favorites making a return to their No. 1 squad.