Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Kris Versteeg is injured.
After signing a new four-year contract with the Florida Panthers last year, Versteeg just hasn’t been able to remain in the lineup in 2013. He had a very fine season in 2011-2012, one which many people would label a career year.
Versteeg posted 54 points in 71 games last season in helping to lead the Cats to their first playoff appearance in a decade. He was viewed as part of the core of this team and was locked up with that four-year deal as a result. Dale Tallon might just be regretting that at this point.
The Panthers have only had Versteeg on the ice for 10 games this season. In those 10 games, he has only four points. He had just returned from a rib injury when he suffered a knee injury on Tuesday night. Whether it’s his groin, his ribs, his back, or his knee, the Panthers just can’t seem to get him in the lineup.
This hurts the Panthers on a couple of different fronts. The first is simply the fact that he’s not in the lineup. He’s one of their better offensive players and he can’t stay healthy. There is a bit of fear that this one is a season-ender. At this point, you wonder if there’s even a point to him coming back.
On the other hand, you also lose a valuable trade chip. Versteeg was reportedly on the trade block, as most of the players in South Beach are these days. There likely would have been a few teams calling on him. Now the Panthers have effectively lost both Versteeg and Stephen Weiss, both of which would have served as valuable guys before the deadline.
Nothing has gone right for the Panthers this season, outside of the play of Jonathan Huberdeau and a few others. This is just another chapter in the story of a rough 2013 season.