Kris Versteeg has caught everyone by surprise with a quick start of 12 points in 13 games. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
You see it happen all the time. Players who are successful in the American League often do not get a real opportunity in the NHL because they either lack the pedigree or the intangibles. Often both. Chicago’s Kris Versteeg was on the periphery for many in-depth fantasy owners, but now he is front and center.
The 22-year-old former Red Deer Rebel and Lethbridge Hurricane had 127 points in 139 AHL games for Rockford, Norfolk and Providence. However, you see that all the time – and it does not necessarily translate into NHL stardom, especially if you were drafted in the fifth round as Versteeg was (by Boston in 2004). It seems as if a first round pick who tallies a point per game in the minors gets the chance to match it in the bigs, but the lesser-hyped picks from later rounds get no such shot.
Clearly, that is not the case in Chicago. Versteeg’s hustle and two-way skill earned him a spot. What’s more – he is getting nearly 18 minutes of ice time per game, which is good for fifth on the team among forwards. His 12 points in 13 games rank him second in NHL rookie scoring – behind Columbus’s Derick Brassard - and he frequently plays on a line with either Martin Havlat or Patrick Kane. Talk about a win-win situation!
He has 70- to 75-point potential in the long run, but this season he should flirt with 65. There is also potential for big penalty minute numbers for the smallish forward. He had 174 of them in the AHL last year and he had 103 of them for Red Deer (Western League) back in 2006.
Bottom line – stop being skeptical of this guy. How his ice time is distributed shows his coach has full trust in him: 17:49 per game overall; 2:34 per game on the power play and 2:22 shorthanded…
Toronto’s Mikhail Grabovski is in a third-place tie in rookie scoring, which may come as a surprise to some considering he was in Montreal for the better part of last year. Grabovski played 24 games in 2007-08 and three the year prior. A player is considered a rookie if he did not play more than 25 NHL games the previous season and he has not played more than six NHL games in any two seasons of his career. The 24-year-old has eight points in his past four games…
Bryan McCabe has been back in the Florida lineup for three games and, as expected, it put a stop to Keith Ballard’s torrid production…
Versteeg’s teammate, defenseman Cam Barker, has been doing well since his recall. Manning the second power play unit, he has five points in five games this season…
Farm Report: Pittsburgh prospect Luca Caputi, who had a breakout campaign in the Ontario League last year and then impressed in the AHL playoffs, is off to a sluggish start for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with only three points in 12 games. I would expect him to make an impact in the NHL in 2010-11…Ottawa prospect Ilya Zubov is having a strong start to his season and has moved up to the top of the list if the team needs to recall someone. The 21-year-old has 15 points in 11 games and should be an NHLer next season.
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