Winning Hearts And Making Plays: Get To Know: Steeger!


Today’s music video on New Releases Thursday is Don’t Stop The Party by The Black Eyed Peas.

One of Dale Tallon’s off season acquisitions is quickly becoming a fan favorite here in South Florida and the regular season hasn’t even started.  Kris Versteeg who has gone by the nicknames Steeger, and VerBeauty among others, is quickly giving Florida Panther fans reason to fall in love with him.  Originally drafted in the 5th round by the Boston Bruins in 2004, Tallon “stole” him by trading forward Brandon Bochenski from the Hawks in exchange for Steeger and a conditional draft pick, in one of a few lynchings that Tallon performed as GM of the Chicago Blackhawks.  He also robbed the Philadelphia Flyers of Patrick Sharp, but that’s another story.

Steeger, spent time in the AHL honing his skills, and in 2008-2009 emerged on the scene playing in 78 games for the Blackhawks putting up 53 points in his rookie season including 22 goals.  Versteeg made a solid impression, challenged for the Calder Trophy, and surprised the Windy City faithful with his energetic play, and his fun loving off ice style.

Playing mostly on the second line, Versteeg killed penalties, and had a few chances on the power play.  His scoring totals dipped slightly in 2009-2010, but he was an integral part of the Hawks Stanley Cup run putting up 14 points in 22 games.  Who can forget this goal in the Vancouver series? There was also this goal in the finals against the Flyers. He was at his playful best however during the parade where he showed off what a great singer he is.

After salary cap issues forced the Blackhawks to make some unwanted and difficult moves, Versteeg was traded to Toronto prior to last season, and was later acquired by the Philadelphia Flyers for their playoff stretch run.  Tired of moving around as he’s been with 4 teams in his young career, Versteeg is hoping to make South Florida home.  For a long time.   Brian Campbell had this to say about Steeger in an article that was written by Harvey Fialkov in the Sun-Sentinel earlier this month:

"“You have to appreciate what he does. He’s one of those players who works hard but he takes some chances. A coach has to do a good job of giving him leeway but make sure he’s on a good rope. Some people don’t have the patience for that and they end up losing out on a good player.”"

In the two recent preseason games at the Bank Atlantic Center, Panther fans have quickly seen his skill and aggressive style on the ice, as Versteeg has made things happen in each game he’s played.  Scoring a goal on Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and dropping the mitts Tuesday night after teammate Tim Kennedy was blind sided by Dallas Star forward Ryan Garbutt.  Versteeg has brought something to the Panthers that has been sorely missing.  A positive, fun, and winning attitude that’s going to be infectious throughout the dressing room.  Jack “Crash” Skille also a teammate of Versteeg’s in Chicago had this to say about the fun winger in the same Sun-Sentinel story:

"“He’s a good locker-room guy as well as a great player,” Skille said. “He makes his linemates better, sets people up really well in tight situations, and is always there.”"

Versteeg is in the final year of a contract that pays him just over $3 million dollars.  In a way that’s a good thing, as he’s just about to hit his prime and will want to be at his best to land himself a long term deal.  He likes it here already, and it’s apparent by all the recent Twitter activity that we like him too.  I’ve seen a ton of Kris Versteeg in the past few seasons, and I know you’re going to like him.  A lot.  He’s going to make plays that you haven’t seen this Panther team make in years, and he’s going to bring an attitude that will rub off on everyone on the club.  His energy, excitement, and creativity is going to catch on fast.  At a young age, he’s won it all, and he knows what it takes to do that.  Dale Tallon is a pretty good judge of talent, and knows what Versteeg can do.  Thing of it is, Versteeg knows what Tallon can do as well.  Sounds like the perfect match to me.

If you’re trying to decide on the purchase of a new Panther sweater, I highly recommend #32.  You’ll love it!  And you can thank me later!

As always thanks for reading. We welcome your comments and opinions.

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