Versteeg finds comfort in return to Hawks

December, 16, 2013
12/16/13
3:02
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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Kris VersteegAP Photo/Jack DempseyKris Versteeg has 11 points in 17 games since returning to the Blackhawks.


CHICAGO -- Kris Versteeg rented a place during his first stint with the Chicago Blackhawks, and he doesn’t plan on purchasing anything the second time around either.

Being traded five times -- including twice to and once from the Blackhawks -- has everything to do with Versteeg’s home-buying philosophies.

“My track record -- I’m not going to buy too many times,” Versteeg said.


Versteeg may never own a home in Chicago, but he’s at home with the Blackhawks. He has settled in quickly with them since being acquired from the Florida Panthers last month.

“I’m feeling comfortable again,” Versteeg said. “You come in here and try to fit in and try play with whoever you’re put with and develop chemistry with them. There’s so many good players on this team it’s not hard to develop chemistry with some of these guys. It’s made my transition easy.”

Versteeg’s game has a way of fitting of in wherever he goes. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman touted Versteeg’s versatility when he acquired him for two prospects on Nov. 14.

“I think just the experience and the versatility he brings to the table on top of the fact he's a player our coaches know well and players are familiar with,” Bowman said after the trade. “He brings a lot of energy, a lot of competitiveness, and he has a great skill level to complement our players, so we think it's a great fit and we're really excited."

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has already utilized Versteeg in nearly every fashion. He’s plugged Versteeg into the second and third lines, the power play and the penalty kill.

Versteeg has especially clicked as of late with Michal Handzus and Patrick Kane on the second line. Versteeg has three goals, four assists and a plus-three rating in eight games in December. His 11 points in 17 games with the Blackhawks have already exceeded the seven points he produced in 18 games this with the Panthers.

“[He provides] just more depth,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “Anyone who would come to this locker room we wouldn’t ask them to be the type of guy who takes over and has to carry the offense by any means. I think Steeger’s got that ability, and he can be a top offensive guy. Maybe he’s not playing the amount of minutes he’s used to playing on any other team, but he’s definitely providing that depth for us.”

Versteeg had a larger role and received more minutes with the Panthers, but he’s perfectly fine with trading that for what he now has with the Blackhawks -- even if it means having to rent another place.

“When I was in Florida, when I was playing there, our line, we were the top guys and playing really well and doing more minutes there,” Versteeg said. “When you come to a team like this, you don’t expect that. Every guy here has won. These guys are top guys. They’re not only top guys on this team, they’re top guys in the entire league.

“You know what your role is. You know where you fit in. I know what I need to do in order to be here and try to stay in the lineup and help the team on any given night.”
Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Sharp
PTS GOALS AST +/-
6 2 4 -1
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Kane 3
AssistsB. Saad 5
+/-J. Oduya 3
GAAA. Raanta 1.52