Kris Versteeg has been traded to the Chicago Blackhawks, the team he won a Stanley Cup with in 2010. Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Kris Versteeg Traded To Chicago Blackhawks

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The Florida Panthers have traded RW Kris Versteeg and LW Philippe Lefebvre to the Chicago Blackhawks for RW Jimmy Hayes and D Dylan Olsen. Panthers GM Dale Tallon made the announcement yesterday evening.

“We are pleased to welcome both Jimmy and Dylan to the Panthers,” Tallon said. “Jimmy is a young, strong, hardworking, versatile forward who brings both size and skill to our team. Dylan, a former first round draft pick, is a young, solid defenseman who adds further depth to our blue line. We thank Kris for his contributions to the Panthers, including helping us win 2011-2012 Southeast Division Championship, and wish him the best of luck in his return to Chicago.”

Kris Versteeg had two goals and five assists in 18 games this year for the Panthers. Versteeg signed a four year $17.6 million deal with the Panthers following the 2011-12 season. The deal came after Versteeg’s first year with the club where he scored 23 goals and helped lead the Panthers to a Southeast Division title.

Versteeg will be returning to Chicago where he previously won a Stanley Cup in 2010.

Things went south for Versteeg following his first year with the Panthers. In the lockout shortened 2012-13 season he only played in 10 games and ended the year by undergoing major knee surgery in March. Versteeg fought back valiantly from injury during the off-season and was recovered in time to play in the Panthers season opener this year in Dallas. He was in and out of Kevin Dineen‘s dog house throughout the season and was a player that many speculated would be traded if the Panthers could just find a team to take his contract.

The Blackhawks are that team, well sort of. Versteeg’s remaining contract which runs through 2016 ($4.4 million per year) will be split between the Panthers and the Blackhawks. That means each team will pay Versteeg $2.2 million per season. So yes the Panthers will be paying Versteeg $2.2 million per year through 2016 to not play for them and yes the move is essentially a buyout except the Panthers get some players in return.

Speaking of those players, Jimmy Hayes, 23, has played in 43 career NHL games, all with Chicago, scoring six goals and seven assists. He played in two games for Chicago this season scoring zero points. He was drafted in the second round of the 2008 draft by the Toronto Maple Leafes. Hayes is a big boy, 6’6″ 221 pounds, and could be in the Panthers lineup tonight when they take on the Minnesota Wild.

Defenseman Dylan Olsen, 22, was taken by the Blackhawks in the 1st round (28th overall) of the 2009 draft. He has played in 28 NHL games, all with the Blackhawks, recording one assist. Chances are, Olsen will be assigned to AHL San Antonio.

Philippe Lefebvre, the other player traded by the Panthers, is a 22-year-old minor prospect who had been playing for the Panthers ECHL affiliate the Cincinnati Cyclones.

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Tags: Florida Panthers Kris Versteeg

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