There’s no sugar coating how bad the 2013 season was for the Florida Panthers. Coming off of a surprise playoff appearance, the Panthers were a team that finished at or near the bottom of the league in basically every category, with injuries that decimated the roster playing a heavy hand in that.
Virtually no one was spared from injury in the 2013 season. Higher paid players, six figure guys, and young guys, it didn’t matter. The injury bug bit pretty much everyone, including forward Kris Versteeg, who had come into his first year of a lucrative four-year contract.
The year ended in a massive disappointment, with healthy obviously playing a big part in that. He notched only four points on the year, but at the same time, was only able to appear in only 10 games for the entire season. After undergoing surgery in the offseason, he may not even be ready to start the 2013-14 year on time.
When he does, though, he’ll be facing quite a bit of pressure in his third season with the Cats. He’s in the second year of a deal that pays him over $4 million a season. No team has paid him that much, as he had become something of a journeyman prior to joining the Panthers.
He gets a pass after a year in which he struggled so much to remain healthy. It’s impossible to look at the contract at this point and call it a bust. Heading into the new season, though, he’s going to have to prove it. He put together a career year in 2011-12, his first year with the club.
Versteeg is going to have to replicate that success, once he does make it back on the ice, in order to avoid the bust label. For seemingly the first time in his career, there is pressure on Kris Versteeg to live up to the hype.