Kris Versteeg

When it rains, it pours: Florida’s Versteeg to have season-ending knee surgery


Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any worse for the Florida Panthers, they got worse.

Today, the club announced that Kris Versteeg — the team’s second-leading goalscorer from a year ago — will undergo season-ending knee surgery.

Versteeg, 26, played a key role in snapping Florida’s lengthy playoff drought a season ago, notching 23G-31A-54PTS in 71 games and finishing third on the team in scoring.

This season, though, had been largely frustrating.

Versteeg’s only played in 10 of Florida’s 27 games after dealing with both groin and chest injuries. On Tuesday — just his third game back from the chest ailment — he was hit by Tampa Bay’s Radko Gudas and forced to leave the contest with the knee injury that would ultimately end his season.

It was just the latest for a Florida team that’s had health issues all season long.

Stephen Weiss, the longest-tenured player on the roster, was lost for the year with a wrist injury. Goalie Jose Theodore is unlikely to return after tearing his groin while Ed Jovanovski, Dmitry Kulikov, Scottie Upshall and Mike Weaver are all currently on injured reserve.

As a result, the Panthers have been forced to dig deep into the organizational depth chart for bodies — unearthing the likes of Nolan Yonkman (a 31-year-old journeyman that’s played six games) and Jon Rheault (a 26-year-old rookie).

The Vertseeg and Weiss injuries also hurt off the ice.

Both were rumored to be potential trade assets at the deadline, given Florida is all but out of the playoff picture. Weiss is an impending UFA and Versteeg has three seasons remaining on his four-year, $17.6 million deal.

Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension

Torres hit
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What will Raffi Torres get this time?

The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.

It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. While Torres is not considered a repeat offender as his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, the NHL still retains the right to consider his history when deciding on this matter.

Among other incidents, he was once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.

You can see the hit below:

And here it is slowed down:

Torres got a match penalty and Silfverberg left the game. Fortunately, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have returned, but was kept out for precautionary reasons.

Flames acquire Freddie Hamilton, brother of Dougie

Freddie Hamilton
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Roughly three months after acquiring Dougie Hamilton, the Calgary Flames have brought his brother on board too.

Freddie Hamilton was pried away from the Colorado Avalanche for the cost a 2016 conditional seventh-round draft pick, per the Avalanche’s website. The Flames announced that he will report to AHL Stockton.

Freddie, who is the older of the two at 23, is a center that excelled offensively in the OHL and has chipped in at the AHL level. However, he has just one point in 29 contests with Colorado and the San Jose Sharks.

This is obviously not a big trade, but perhaps Freddie will eventually become a solid member of the Flames’ supporting cast. If nothing else, it didn’t cost Calgary much to reunite the brothers. The duo previously played together with the Niagara IceDogs.