When the Flames demoted Linden Vey to the Stockton Heat, that left them with just 13 healthy forwards. That included Brandon Bollig, who cleared waivers earlier today, and was not on the ice for the Flames’ practice.
Going into a season with potentially just 12 forwards seems like not a great idea. So how about pilfering someone who would have been a great addition all along from a certain northern rival?
The Oilers had Kris Versteeg with them at camp on a PTO. The Oilers decided not to sign him. The Flames did.
Pending final approval. 1 yr, $950,000 for Versteeg in Calgary.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) October 11, 2016
There were some interesting players on waivers yesterday, most notably right wings P.A. Parenteau and Teemu Pulkkinen. Nobody probably would have complained had the Flames scooped up either; however, they went to New Jersey and Minnesota, respectively, meaning the Flames didn’t even try for either of them.
This is probably why. Versteeg is a 30-year-old right winger who scored 38 points just last season. If you re-read Mike’s piece, linked to above – and seriously, if you’re having any doubts about this, give it a re-read – then Versteeg is an absolutely fantastic option to have instead.
Depending on where he plays, he could be a 40-point guy. He adds to the Flames’ paltry wing depth. And he’s not Chris Higgins: he hasn’t fallen off of a cliff, and he can still provide excellent defensive coverage both at even strength and, especially importantly, on the penalty kill.
The Flames’ forwards now look like this:
Gaudreau – Monahan – Ferland
Tkachuk – Bennett – Brouwer
Bouma – Backlund – Frolik
F. Hamilton – Stajan – Chiasson
Of course, Versteeg’s addition probably changes things up. Does Ferland stay on the top line, playing on his off-wing? Or does Versteeg potentially take that spot? This could bump Ferland down to playing on the left side with the other Mikes, which could in turn bump Bouma down to the fourth line. Or maybe Versteeg swoops in on the Mike line to help make it even stronger, shutdown-wise? He adds a lot of new options, all of them good.
It’s not necessarily clear who, among the remaining guys, could serve as healthy scratch (Bollig aside) – but what’s important here is that every single forward the Flames have can reliably play a shift (Bollig aside). (And that’s assuming a demotion isn’t in store, especially considering the cap space that would be saved lines up with Versteeg’s reported hit.)
Missing in all of this? If Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson was really Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson and Milan Lucic, if you think about it, then this was definitely Kris Versteeg for Kris Russell. And among southern Albertans named Kris, the Flames won this round.