After an inconsistent 2010-2011 season Kris Versteeg came to the Florida Panthers in an off season trade and was looking to prove any critics wrong and that he could be a top skater in the NHL. Versteeg would play on the right wing on Florida’s top line, next to Stephen Weiss and Tomas Fleischmann and the trio would get off to one of the hottest starts in the league offensively.
For the first two months of the season Florida’s top line would lead the league in scoring, compared to other lines around the league. Versteeg also set a Panther record for best start on the team, scoring 25 points in his first 20 games as a Panther, passing Pavel Bure. Versteeg also recorded his first career hat trick against the Winnipeg Jets, a team he would constantly score on through out the season. He set career highs in goals (23) and points (54) while playing in 71 games, had he not been injured towards the end of the season those numbers could have been much better as he and his line were beginning to heat up once again.
Dale Tallon had traded for Versteeg for the second time in his general managing career having done so a few years prior while in Chicago. He brought Versteeg to the Panthers not only for his skill but because of his track record, Versteeg has been deep into the playoffs in his young career; including winning the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010. At only 25, Versteeg shows good leadership in the locker room and is always one of the first on the ice during practices and pregame warm ups, and one of the last off the ice at the conclusion of each.
Versteeg could have been higher on the list if it weren’t for past inconsistency and injury issues last season. He was one of Florida’s best offensive producers but at times disappeared, which he’s been criticized for in his career; but it’s expected that was because of injuries he was dealing with. Evidence of this is the fact that he had surgery on his hip just days after the Panthers were eliminated in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
If Versteeg can stay healthy I’d expect him to have another career season and could become a consistant 60+ point producer. In his young career he’s scored 20+ goals in each of his first four seasons and could become a 30 goal scorer in the NHL with continued success, and as Florida’s young prospect talent begins to join the Panthers roster.
Versteeg scores from between his legs off a pass from Stephen Weiss.
Versteeg singing at a Florida Panther charity event, he raised $3000 towards the Panther foundation by singing this; also included in the package was a night of bowling with Versteeg.
As you can see above Versteeg not only brings a lot to his team offensively, but off the ice as well. He does a lot of work in the community and for the Panthers charities and is definitely a fan favorite.