Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

FlamesNation player evaluation: Kris Versteeg

When it was announced that Kris Versteeg was re-signing with the Flames last summer, it was a joyous occasion for many, but Versteeg himself might have been the happiest. Buying into the Flames’ vision, Versteeg confessed his re-ignited love for the game, and also upheld his family values, making his decision to return an easy one.

However, his season was cut short, as Versteeg was kept on the sidelines to recover from a hip surgery

2017-18 season summary

Versteeg’s on-ice presence was sorely missed after it was announced that he was out month-to-month. While it’s hard to say how the Flames’ powerplay might have performed differently had Versteeg been available, it’s abundantly clear that the 29th-ranked man advantage could have used his skillset.

In the games that he did play, he made the powerplay more dangerous. He was heavily relied on as a part of the first unit, and put up a powerplay scoring rate of 4.09 P/60. This trailed only Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, and Sean Monahan among powerplay regulars.

Further, the Flames struggled with games that went to a shootout. The team went 2-5 this season after going 4-2 in 2016-17. Shootouts are always tossups, but most of their shootout losses were due to leaky goaltending this season. Perhaps with Versteeg’s shootout prowess, the Flames could have instead outscored their opponents and picked up a few more points along the way.

Games played Goals Assists Points TOI/GP 5v5 CF% 5v5 CF% rel OZS% PDO
24 3 5 8 13:11 47.52 -3.68 55.88 1.014

This was the first season since 2010-11 (excluding the 2012-13 lockout season) that Versteeg was held under 60 games. He had a close call after taking a slapshot to the head, but it was his hip labrum injury that ultimately kept him out.

After missing 49 games, he made his return in hopes of helping out the Flames in their playoff push. However, he was quickly shut down for the season after the Flames saw their playoff chances fall off a cliff. There was little reason to continue to play Versteeg any further as he was rushed back from a major surgery.

Early in the season, Versteeg spent most of his time playing alongside Troy Brouwer, Sam Bennett, Curtis Lazar, Matt Stajan and Jaromir Jagr. Out of these linemates, Versteeg and Jagr were the most potent together, putting up a 54.10 5v5 CF%. The rest of these players did not help him out much as their CF% were all in the red, and Versteeg often had better results away from them.

Off the ice, Versteeg’s biggest contribution this year was his rink-side commentary during the Flames’ Super Skills competition.

Compared to last season

With Versteeg being injured for most of the season, evaluating his performance is affected by the small sample size. The 2017-18 season started off slowly for him, but it could have been due to the constant third line shuffling that occurred.

His lack of 5v5 production from last season carried over and was actually twice as low. He scored 1.50 P/60 last year compared to 0.74 P/60 this time around. His shooting percentage also took a sizeable hit, dropping from 11% (coincidentally also his career average) to 6.1%, affecting both his even strength and powerplay scoring.

However, when on the powerplay, Versteeg was still contributing at a similar rate as last season, albeit scoring fewer goals in exchange for more assists. He had one goal and four assists in 2017-18, compared to 2016-17 where he had eight powerplay goals and assists each.

What about next season?

While his numbers were underwhelming prior to his injury, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Flames kept Versteeg around for at least another year. Versteeg can continue to contribute in a top nine role and provide some much needed value to the powerplay.

If he can make a full recovery in time for the start of training camp, he could possibly skate more frequently with Jankowski and Andrew Mangiapane, among others. Either way, it’d be a welcome change from Versteeg’s far too consistent usage with Brouwer.

A lot of what’s to come for Versteeg really does depend on his recovery. If all goes well, another season with the Flames should be fortuitous for both parties.

#5 – Mark Giordano #7 – TJ Brodie
#8 – Chris Stewart

  • JMK

    I like Versteeg but is there/will there be room for him next season? I also can’t remember did we see a Bennett-Jankowski-Versteeg line much last year? Any line-up I can think of with Versteeg in it has to exclude Brouwer and I doubt that happens.


    Is that enough of a change? In fantasy land:

    • JMK

      Running through possible line-up changes leads me to think any changes to forward personnel will some players gone that not everyone will be happy about. To improve the way the flames want to, a couple of Bennett, Ferland, Jankowski, Hathaway, Versteeg, Lazar, Brouwer, Frolik might need to go. If Calgary add O’Reilly or Tavares (as unrealistic as either option might be) will a 4th line role be okay for Jankowski’s development, then where do Shore and Lazar fit in? I’m sure the idea of rolling lines will be suggested but which line do you want to take minutes away from to play 4th line frequently? And it’s been mentioned quite often but Calgary have an abundance of Right wingers now, just none that are particularly all that good. Adding a RW through trade or FA, will have to push someone out and I’m pessimistic it will be Brouwer.

      • JMK

        Would you trade Jankowski then? Or move him to the wing in top 9? I’m basing this on the premise that Calgary brings in Tavares or O’Reilly as opposed to bringing in a top 6 RW. Only because O’Reilly and Tavares have been talked about almost as often as adding a RW. Either way some fan favorites might have to be dealt.

        And I’ve forgotten Mangiapane in all this, perhaps he can replace Dube in my line-ups and let Dube get some professional reps in AHL. My inkling on Dube making squad is down to how late he has been cut in previous camps.

    • Stu Gotz

      2 years ago 29 NHL teams refused to sign Versteeg because of his chronic hip issue. Flames took a low risk chance and signed him. For the most part the signing was a failure because of the health issue. Thanks Chris for your dedicated services to the Flames and NHL….Enjoy your retirement and stay healthy!

  • Keith Chucky

    I’d like to see you back next season, if for nothing further than what the report said.
    The talks we had, although very short and minor, I still think you had a viable metal positive for the team.
    Good luck with a new contract bro!
    Hope it is with us.

  • Honkydonk

    No matter if Versteeg is a playable winger I find that to be irrelevant at this point.

    Versteeg has turned out to be exactly what Minnesota walked away from. That is a guy that is just way too injury prone at the last bit of his career to add value. Collectively Versteeg has been here two seasons and missed a complete seasons worth of games being injuried.

    Hey flames leadership. You know the old fat guys that think you know something. If you want to throw away millions of dollars give it to us instead.

    • freethe flames

      Can’t win with those guys in the line up. When does a guy become a vet? Time for guys like Monny to earn his letter, Johnny needs to lead, Dougie needs to lead, Tkachuk already leads. Backs/Gio/Hammonick/Frolik/TJ are all vets. So no you don’t need vets who can’t play. You can get other vets via FA.

  • Alberta Ice

    So the Jets move on to round 3 after an impressive game 7 win tonight. Hey, didn’t the Oilers push the Ducks to a game 7 in the 2nd round last year- but didn’t do what the Jets did tonight. Poor Rinne reminded me of Brian Elliot in the Flames first round last year against the Ducks. So Canada’s team is still alive for another series. No one predicted it would be the Jets vs the Golden Knights back at the start of this season. And we really hoped for a BOA before it began too. So sad that way.

  • FL?MES

    The Flames organization needs to wake up. To me it always appears that they take the safe way out by loading the roster with veterans who are close to or beyond their due date. I’m thInking most fans would rather see a competitive environment where players compete for jobs and prospects are given a chance to show their stuff. This does not mean saddling them on the third or forth lines with aging stagnant vets.

  • Fat Tony

    Personally I like Versteeg. If he is to be resigned then he needs to be the extra body because this group needs to get younger. If he still wants to be here then that is the way it has to be. I would much rather him suit up as the extra forward than Stajan, or maybe even Lazar.

  • Oil consuming Flames

    Versteeg has likely played his last pro hockey game. If he doesn’t realize that, he best be ready for more rehab as the next injury is just around the corner. It’s a shame, because he played hard and has a good skill set, and still plays fast even as his foot speed diminishes. It would likely be a mistake to offer him a chance to return.

  • freethe flames

    If we are comparing the Flames to the Jets we can’t just look at the age of the players but we have to discuss the talent level of both organizations. The Jets depth is better as is there talent at the bottom/middle of their line up. Adding a top 6 forward to our group would help but the Jets superior depth at center in their organization and better play from the bottom 6 is much better. If you look at Vegas, Tampa, and Washington closely the same can be said about them as well. Will Mangiapane, Foo, Dube, Phillips and Gawdin be able to fill these holes next year; some of them maybe all of them highly unlikely.

    • everton fc

      Gawdin needs to prove he can score at the AHL level. Ditto Phillips. To me, Dube’s game is the closest to “ready”, of the aforementioned four, sans Foo. I personally don’t think any of them are read for the NHL full time. Foo might be, but as a 3rd/4th line wing.

  • everton fc

    For the same salary as last year, and if he’s healed… I think Versteeg has value. Especially when compared to players like Stewart.

    I also see him as a character guy. Apparently BT and company feel we lack in this very important area. Maybe Versteeg’s injury and subsequent disappearance from the locker room had an adverse impact?

    If character is an issue, it makes me also wonder about Gio, as a captain. And Brouwer/Monahan as alternates.

  • snotss

    stagan and versteeg brouwer stewart will not be back if the flames are serious about improving over last year…i don’t have much faith in the flames managment…hopefully they prove me wrong

  • Roger the Shrubber

    Let the kids play. Give Lazar a chance on the 3rd and 4th line with some youth and speed and see what happens. I like Versteeg a lot and think he’s a great presence for the team but he’d be hindering a young guy’s growth if the Flames were to re-sign him.