The Florida Panthers shocked many last season by winning the Southeast Division, but the deck might be stacked against them in 2013. The team already looked like it would be shorthanded going into opening night, but now you can add first-liner Kris Versteeg to the injured list.
Versteeg “pulled something” on Friday, according to the Miami Herald. With that, he joins jet-lagged Dmitry Kulikov, concussed Mike Weaver and the injury-suspended trio of Sean Bergenheim, Erik Gudbranson and Marcel Goc on the sidelines.
Versteeg is in the first season of four-year, $17.6 million contract. He had offseason hip surgery that kept him from being locked out until mid-November, so there’s a chance that is what is hampering him now.
The talented winger was limited to 71 games played in 2010-11, but still made an impact in that time, setting career-highs with 23 goals and 54 points.
Snarky hockey fans will notice his absence, too. He turned some heads with some wild hair last season and is now sporting an incredible mustache. The Miami Herald did some strong nose-critter journalism in this post, but you can revel in this photo of last season’s locks (via Getty).
If Versteeg can combine last season’s hair with this year’s mustache, it’s hard to imagine any defenseman, goalie or injury slowing him down.
The Calgary Flames have released Ryan Wilson from his professional tryout.
The 28-year-old was trying to make a comeback after missing 79 games with a shoulder injury last season.
Even with T.J. Brodie sidelined because of a broken hand, Wilson still faced long odds to make the final roster.
The veteran will be hard-pressed to find NHL work with another team.
He hasn’t suited up in more than 12 regular season games since 2011-12.
The Stockton Heat, Calgary’s AHL affiliate, also made some news on Sunday.
The club announced that they’ve signed Colton Orr to an AHL contract.
The 33-year-old tough guy suited up in just one game for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season. He has 12 seasons of NHL experience under his belt.
The Arizona Coyotes have returned Dylan Strome to the Erie Otters of the OHL.
Strome, 18, was the third overall pick in the 2015 NHL draft.
The 6’3, 185 pounder was hoping to stick with the Coyotes this season, but the team decided to take the conservative approach with their top prospect.
Strome will look to build off an incredible junior season that saw him score 45 goals and 129 points in 68 games.
Strome seems to be taking the demotion in stride.
The team also announced that they’ve assigned goaltender Louis Domingue and forward Matthias Plachta to their AHL affiliate in Springfield.
Domingue, 23, had a 1-2-1 record with a 2.73 goals-against-average and a .911 save percentage in seven games last season.
Plachta, a free agent signing, will begin his first pro season in North America. The 24-year-old had 14 goals and 35 points in the German League last season.