The Florida Panthers have managed to follow up an absolutely miserable regular season, which saw them finish at the bottom of the league standings, with a pretty poor offseason. Clearly, Dale Tallon is hoping that a healthy team will rebound, despite making zero impact additions to their last place roster.
Which means that players are not only going to have to come back healthy in the 2013-14 season, they’re going to need to rebound completely. One player on the roster that fits that description is Kris Versteeg, who followed up the best season of his career with possibly the worst.
Versteeg’s first year with the Panthers saw him post a career high 54 points. He went from a role player to a key piece for a Cats club that reached the postseason for the first time in ages. He set a career mark with 23 goals and easily eclipsed his previous scoring rates throughout his career, finishing with nearly 0.8 points per game.
The 2013 season was not nearly as kind to Versteeg, though. After earning a big new contract, which carries a $4.4 million cap hit, Versteeg was unable to stay on the ice long enough to piece together any sort of success last year. He dealt with a variety of ailments, with a knee injury finally spelling the end for him. He posted just four points in 10 games and was a minus-8.
He’ll head into the 2013-14 season with a ton to prove. There were questions when he signed his new deal over whether or not his 2011-12 success was a fluke, and whether or not he actually deserved that type of contract. After all, he was a career role player prior to coming to Florida.
Right now, critics of Versteeg seem to have the upper hand. He’ll need to rebound in a big way, as he heads into his third season in Florida with something to prove. If he can come back healthy and back at the level we’ve seen him at previously, it’ll go a long way towards improving the fortunes of this Panthers club.