Fantasy Impact: The Chicago Blackhawks have re-acquired forward Kris Versteeg along with minor-leaguer Philippe Lefebrve in exchange for prospects Jimmy Hayes and Dylan Olsen.
The Blackhawks get: A scrappy two-way forward with whom they are already very familiar. Versteeg played a very prominent role on the Blackhawks’ first championship squad this millennium. He was let go following that Cup win for cap purposes bouncing from Toronto to Philadelphia before landing in Florida.
Versteeg was called upon to be both a veteran leader and reliable scorer at each of these stops but outside one season with Florida he was a disappointment. This is likely because he was miscast as a top-six player but also because he struggled throw injury.
In Chicago, Versteeg will no longer face the pressures of being a top-line scorer as the Blackhawks already have Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad filling out their top-six wing slots. Versteeg will likely slot in on the third line alongside Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw.
Versteeg doesn’t fill the Blackhawks’ need for a second line center and while the Panthers retained half of his $4.4 million annual salary in the deal his contract will still clog up Chicago’s cap space enough that acquiring a centerman will become more difficult.
Versteeg does fill a need on Chicago’s third line, however. They have recently been skating defenseman Sheldon Brookbank at forward while double-shifting top-six wingers like Kane on that third line. As recently as last night the Blackhawks had tried Jeremy Morin on that line but he was sent down to the AHL upon Versteeg’s acquisition. Versteeg’s pesky play is a perfect fit for that third line and he certainly makes the Blackhawks more difficult to play against.
The Panthers get: A couple of decent pro prospects with modest fantasy upside as well as roster and cap space.
Fantasy Players Impacted: This one is a bit cloudy considering the disparity of talent between the two teams involved. There is an argument to be made that this hurts Versteeg because he will see a reduced role in Chicago but he was playing quite poorly in Florida so the surrounding talent could very well buoy Versteeg’s production this season. The big question is going to be power play time.
During Versteeg’s last stint with the club he skated on the second power play unit but the Blackhawks are loaded with established talents right now. Who would they push off the power play to make room for Versteeg?
The top unit seems established with Shaw, Kane, Toews and Sharp while the second unit makes a lot of sense with Hossa, Brandon Pirri and Saad. The Blackhawks did experiment with Saad at center earlier this year, could they try that again on the second power play unit.
I’m apt to say that this move helps Versteeg at least a little bit just because he has nowhere to go but up after his miserable start. Pirri may be the big loser in all of this because he is seeing limited minutes as it is.
Versteeg’s new linemates Bickell and Shaw will receive a slight boost if he can get back to his 50-point ways.
Similarly, both Olsen and Hayes lose the benefit of Chicago’s established stars but they head to a young team where they are more likely to get an opportunity sooner.
The kids in Florida lose one of the few “reliable” veterans they had to skate with so if you think things have been bad so far, just wait, they may get worse. Versteeg had bounced around the Panthers lineup quite a bit so there is no one individual who gets exceedingly hurt by his loss. Someone will have to fill the 2:13 of power play time Versteeg had been receiving each game and the likely candidates include Nick Bjugstad and Tomas Kopecky.
Blackhawks prospect Adam Clendening receives a small boost because Olsen makes one less defenseman between him and the NHL.
Morin, who was sent down by the Blackhawks takes the biggest hit. All the other prospect forwards in Chicago do too because Versteeg has two years remaining on his deal after this one.
Alex Petrovic, Colby Robak and other Panthers defensive prospects take a hit because of Olsen’s presence.
Fantasy Players this helps, in order
1. Kris Versteeg
2. Jimmy Hayes
3. Dylan Olsen
4. Andrew Shaw/Bryan Bickell
5. Tomas Kopecky
6. Adam Clendening
Fantasy Players this hurts, in order
1. Brandon Pirri (maybe)
2. Jeremy Morin
3. Alex Petrovic/Colby Robak