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Countdown 11: No. 4 Player to Watch; Kris Versteeg

by Jared Levine / Florida Panthers

Forward Kris Versteeg, who already has three seasons of 20-plus goals was acquired by the Panthers from Philadelphia on July 1.

In today’s topic, we take a closer look at forward Kris Versteeg in the Top Five Players To Watch this season.

Versteeg, at only 25 years old, has already scored over 20 goals three times in his career.  Selected 134th overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, some would say that he has exceeded expectations as a player. 

GM Dale Tallon has been a believer since the beginning of his young career. Back in 2007, Versteeg was acquired by the Chicago Blackhawks through a trade with Boston.  Fast-forward a couple of years and now as Panthers GM, Tallon acquired Versteeg again via trade in a deal with Philadelphia for a 2012 or 2013 conditional second round pick as well as a 2012 third round pick. Versteeg would be one of 10 new players added during the offseason.

“(Versteeg) is versatile enough to play any forward position and brings passion and commitment to the rink every single day," Tallon said.

Heading into this season, Versteeg will need to become a key contributor to the Panthers offense. He will be asked to provide that offensive spark, scoring plenty of goals while adding some assists.

"When I came here, I almost feel like I'm home, it just feels comfortable right away here,'' said Versteeg of being in South Florida and on the Panthers.

There is no need to worry about him. He will produce. Over his first three full seasons, Versteeg has averaged 21 goals with 27 assists, and even played a major role during the Chicago Blackhawks championship run.

Being that he is 25, it’s surprising how deep Versteeg’s resume is. He has already won a Stanley Cup, produced during the regular season and post-season, and was named as a Calder Trophy finalist as the league’s top rookie.

His experiences during the regular season and post-season will go a long way in this revamped Panther locker room. The sky is the limit for this young Panther forward, which is why he is a player to watch out for this upcoming 2011-12 season.


BY THE NUMBERS

4 - Will suit up for fourth team in last 24 months. After playing for Chicago in 2009-10, Versteeg was traded to Toronto to begin last season. There he split time between Toronto and Philadelphia.

11 - Registered 11 multi-point games last season during his time split between Toronto and Philadelphia.

53 - Recorded career high 53 points during his first full season with Chicago during the 2007-08 campaign.

250 - Has played in 250 games in four seasons in the league, averaging 79 games played over his three full seasons.
 

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