In case you missed it, the Florida Panthers have traded Kris Versteeg and minor leaguer Philippe Lefebvre to the Chicago Blackhawks for RW Jimmy Hayes and D Dylan Olsen. Here are some quick thoughts about the deal:
- We knew this day was coming so we probably should not be surprised now that it is here. The rumors that the Panthers were looking to move their veterans have been hanging over the Panthers since October. After Kevin Dineen was fired last week, General Manager Dale Tallon made it clear that more changes were on the way. Here are some quotes from Dale Tallon from his press-conference following the Dineen firing:
“Our better players have to start playing better or we will get better players”
“The first of many changes that were making”
“Its easier to fire a coach than it is to fire 23 players”
“We’re on the phone constantly and were going to make changes as we go we want people that want to be Panthers and if they don’t want to be then we will accommodate them”
“Right now I’m dissatisfied with the effort form most of the guys and we need to be better”
Reading these quotes in light of the Versteeg deal, its not hard to come to the conclusion that things were not working out between Steeger and the Panthers.
- I think when we look back on all of this we will look at Kevin Dineen’s benching of Versteeg before the Capitals game on Nov. 2nd as the beginning of the end for Versteeg. Versteeg did not necessarily take the news of the benching like a professional. Here is the Miami Herald’s report on the event. Apparently Versteeg was visibly upset that he was benched against the Capitals and he was quoted as saying, “Obviously I’m being used as an example,” “I’ve played for some pretty good teams,” and “This isn’t what I wanted. But it’s up to the coaches who plays. I’ll just leave it at that.”
- It seems like interim head coach Peter Horachek was also not thrilled with Versteeg. Here is Versteeg’s ice time in Horachek’s three games behind the bench: Vs Ottawa: 13:23, Vs. New York Rangers: 14:20, Vs Anaheim: 11:46. You expect your second highest paid forward to get more ice time than that so the fact that his coach did not seem to trust him is indicative of some sort of issues.
- Its impossible to say who won this trade right now. Obviously Versteeg is the best player in the deal right now but he still only had two goals and five assists in 18 games for Florida this season, so its not like he was ever a key contributor on this year’s team. That being said, I could see Versteeg going to Chicago and thriving in a bottom-six role. The Blackhawks have a stacked lineup and in Chicago, Versteeg will not be the center of focus. He will be allowed to do his thing, relatively unbothered. Plus I think a change of scenery will be good for him. Whatever was going on in Florida, it was not ideal. In Chicago, Versteeg will get a chance for a fresh start in a familiar place.
- The players Florida received in the trade RW Jimmy Hayes, 23, and D Dylan Olsen, 22, are not necessarily super prospects but they are nice young pieces that could help the organization. Keep in mind here, the Panthers did not have too much leverage in trading Versteeg. Yes he scored 23 goals two years ago but that was two years ago. Since his 2011-12 success, Versteeg has played in 28 games, scored four goals and undergone major knee surgery. Yes people remember how good Versteeg can be, but right now he is far from that player.
- Jimmy Hayes will be in the lineup tonight. He will wear number 12. Hayes is 6’6″, 221 pounds the big framed player that Dale Tallon loves. He will probably see third or fourth line minutes but regardless, he will be a nice addition to the lineup. Dylan Olsen will be sent to AHL San Antonio. The former first found pick (28th in 2009) has a lot of potential and I would not be surprised if we see him join the Panthers in the near future. What is important to remember is, it is not about what these guys can do now, but about what they will be able to do in the future.
- Say whatever you want to say about the deal, I am just happy that I will not have to struggle through spelling Lefebvre in the future.