Kris Versteeg will suit up in the first regular season game at Rogers Place, but after spending an entire pre-season as an Edmonton Oiler, he’ll greet the building as part of the rival Calgary Flames.
Kris Versteeg’s off-season has been a weird one, and it didn’t get any less strange with opening night upon us.
Versteeg, 30, has had a few twists and turns in his career this summer, and the final one came when he signed a one-year, $950,000 contract with the Calgary Flames after spending an entire training camp and pre-season with the Edmonton Oilers.
Versteeg didn’t set the world on fire during his training camp and pre-season stay in Edmonton, but he did manage to pot one goal in four games’ work. What he did do was play well enough for the Oilers to consider bringing him onto the club this coming season, which would have been a good move if only to see what Versteeg has left in the tank after a career that spans 550 games and has seen him score 131 goals and 313 points.
However, despite Edmonton coach Todd McLellan confirming that Versteeg was offered a contract by the Oilers, the veteran winger finds himself starting the campaign as a Calgary Flame. Out of almost nowhere, TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that Versteeg had left the Oilers to sign with the rival Flames, and that’s where the he will start the 2016-17 campaign. Not only that, but according to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie, Versteeg managed to land a three-team no-trade clause in his contract.
This is the latest oddity in Versteeg’s off-season, which started with his decision that he wasn’t going to participate in the craziness of the NHL’s off-season and led to him signing a one-year deal with Switzerland’s SC Bern with an eye on an NHL in 2017-18. That didn’t really work out, though.
Weeks after signing his contract, Versteeg parted ways with SC Bern amidst reports that he failed his physical with the team, and all of a sudden he was back battling for his spot in an NHL training camp, having signed a professional tryout with the Oilers.
When it comes to Versteeg’s decision to forego the deal with the Oilers and sign with the Flames, there’s no knowing what exactly was behind the decision. There’s been speculation about playing time in Edmonton, which may have been tough to come by, or the type of contract that he would have been offered, but none of that has been confirmed. One thing that’s for certain is that the Lethbridge, Alta., native is closer to home in Calgary than he was in Edmonton, and that may have factored into the decision.
It would make the most sense, though, if Versteeg wanted to put himself in a situation where he knew he was going to be a regular and could continue to play the entire season in one locale. It would be safe to say that’s the intention of most players when they sign a contract, but that’s especially true for Versteeg, who is technically about to suit up for his seventh organization in a four-year span.
Since 2013-14, Versteeg has played for the Florida Panthers, Chicago Blackhawks, Carolina Hurricanes, Los Angeles Kings, and had his brief stint in Switzerland before spending time in Edmonton and subsequently signing with Calgary.
If there’s stability with the Flames, that may have been enough to sell Versteeg on playing for the organization. And for his sake, here’s hoping that he made the right decision and doesn’t end up seeing his eighth organization in the past four seasons.
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