Flames sign Kris Versteeg

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.

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

Versteeg, Bollig

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.

  • SmellOfVictory

    I don’t normally put a lot of stock in “locker room issue” stuff, but Versteeg has possibly the worst reputation as a locker room cancer of any player in the league. Based on that alone, I’d much rather have had PAP at 1.25 or taken a chance on Pulkkinen.

    • Neddd

      Interesting. Earlier today he was actually quoted as saying that he didn’t think that he should have been in a PTO situation as he’s not like the other guys you see on PTO’s (or something to that effect). So in other words, he sees himself as being better than other PTO invitees.

      I wonder what his new teammate Grossman thinks of that comment? Its one thing for fans to make disparaging comments about a player, but its totally another for a peer/teammate to do the same.

  • beloch

    Versteeg might actually be a decent possession player. He played middle of the road competition and did well in Chicago two seasons ago. He split last season between the Hurricanes and Kings. He was more sheltered than he was with the Hawks, but was still a positive possession player. If you look at his 5on5 zone-start adjusted WOWY, he made pretty much every teammate he played significant minutes with better.

    In the bottom six Versteeg is a safe bet. In the top six he’s more of a stretch. However, given that the Flames were realistically considering playing Chiasson in the top six, this is a solid improvement to the lineup. That being said, here’s hoping Pribyl proves to be as advertised and bumps Versteeg to the bottom six.

    • KACaribou

      Good points. Not sure the Flames were considering Chaisson in the top six, more just people at FN were conceding him the first line RW position. Now there seems to be a question as to whether he even belongs on the 4th line RW. I think sometimes views and assumptions here get confused with what the management and coaches think; and that quite frankly is completely different.

      • Craig

        There was a period of time, beginning of training camp, where media speculated that Chiasson would start or get a shot playing with Johnny and Monny.

        Ferland looked way better during camp and so looks to be starting on the top line.

        • KACaribou

          I have been following Ferly for a long time now. He’s a bit of a head case. I mean that in a good way, but he takes a while to find his place and fit in.

          From what I have seen this year, he seems to be brimming with confidence compared to last year. That could have something to do with a new coach. Although Coach Bob did wonders for Ferly as a person (assumption here), I think he may have confused the living s#it out of the young man on the ice.

          The top line needs a Ferly. I mean Johnny and Mony wouldn’t hurt a fly out there.

          • everton fc

            I’ve followed Ferland, as well, since junior. Since his concussions, he’s not scored goals anywhere, with any team.

            He’s recovered now, and will score 15 this season, minimum. You heard it here first!

        • jakethesnail

          Well, Johnny wasn’t here at all for training camp and Monny played one pre-season game. Ferland has played on the top line for a bit last season, so it is logical he starts the season there. Hopefully, his shooting percentage escalates form last seasons % and stays on the first line.

    • RealMcHockeyReturns

      No “might” about it…he IS a great possession player with 77 games last year seeing him with a 56.92 CF% in 5 vs 5 competition per Cosica Hockey….so that is excellent and no fluke given large sample size. This is a STEAL of a deal…

      • Greatsave

        His Corsi numbers were precisely why I wondered why nobody showed interest in him. It seems like potential health issues would *have* to have played a part. I don’t know how else to explain it.

        Granted, he played in possession-conscious teams the past 3 years (Chicago, Carolina, LA), but except for the 10-game stretch with Florida in the lockout-shortened season, he has always been positive CF RelTM, so I’m quite comfortable with his play-driving ability. Not to mention his playing top-line minutes last year with Eric Staal, or with Kane and Toews in Chicago before that.

  • everton fc

    Versteeg’s better than Chiasson. Much better. And, other than one season, he’s pretty much played full seasons, which means he must not be too prone to injury. Good things…

    The price tag is cheap. If he scores 12-15 goals and gets 20 assists – in other words, if he duplicates Colborne’s production – it’s a win. The comments above about his attitude, though…. Probably why he was in a PTO situation. Here’s hoping he shevles any attitude he may have had, “prior”…

    (Could be worse – Kings seems ot be ready to sign Setoguchi!)

  • Baalzamon

    I think it’s likely Versteeg ends up on the Monahan line to start, leaving Ferland to land on the Backlund unit. The three Mikes, the BFFs, whatever you want to call them, look like a pretty fearsome “third” line. They won’t score much (maybe fifteen goals each) but they’ll crush basically anyone they play against.

  • RKD

    He barely played for the Kings last season but in the three seasons prior he played 60 or more games, put up 10 or more goals and 29 points or more. Depends on how they use him and if he can stay healthy.

  • Glenn

    Definitely gives us some much needed depth on RW at a reasonable cap hit. I haven’t really seen him play in the past few years, but if healthy he’s got to help.

    I can only hope Tre thinks he can still do something with Wideman. Maybe he felt Grossman adds some experience if Wides got moved. We can only hope!