Dale Tallon came into his first summer as the team’s general manager and instantly overhauled the roster, giving it quality that it had lacked for years. He brought in notable names and made them a team that was fun to watch throughout.
One of those names was Kris Versteeg, who was acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers. It was a rough couple of seasons for Versteeg, in terms of his travel. After winning the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks, Versteeg was shipped to the Toronto Maple Leafs, who dealt him to the Flyers during the season. After a disappointing time with Philly, Tallon acquired the forward he drafted while the two were in Chicago.
And it was a move that worked out splendidly. Versteeg set a new career high, with 54 points on the year, including 23 goals. That point total came despite being limited by injury throughout much of the second half of the season, as well as the playoffs.
His strong performance continued in the Cats’ first round matchup against New Jersey, with Versteeg posting five points in the seven game series. He managed to play in all seven despite various ailments, one of which required hip surgery for the 26-year-old forward after the series was over.
There’s little doubt that the future is bright for this team. They surprised nearly everyone by winning the Southeast Division, as terrible as it might be, and putting up a very good fight in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. There’s already plenty of talent on this team and there is more, like Jonathan Huberdeau, on the way.
With it already looking like a bright future for this Panthers team, signing Versteeg to a new contract will be a priority for this team in the offseason. An agreement shouldn’t be an issue, however, as Versteeg enjoys Florida and finally has a home after being traded three times in one calendar year.
I’d be very surprised if Versteeg reaches free agency without a new deal from the Cats. He’s established himself as a top six forward and a deal should be reached rather quickly, once the actual discussion begins.