Kris Versteeg is back. The veteran forward has signed a one-year contract with the Rockford IceHogs for 2019-20 to play in the AHL. Versteeg spent the 2018-19 season in the KHL and Sweden after failing to get an NHL contract, but will return to North America to continue his professional career.
Now 32, Versteeg has seen it all in his hockey career. Originally selected in the fifth round by the Boston Bruins in 2004, he would eventually battle for the Calder Trophy in 2008-09 after scoring 22 goals and 53 points as a rookie for the Chicago Blackhawks. Versteeg would win the first of two Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks the following year, but found himself on the trade block for basically the next decade.
Spending time with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers, Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes, Los Angeles Kings and Calgary Flames in addition to two stints with the Blackhawks, the veteran has long been a solid if unspectacular offensive contributor. The fact that he will be rejoining the Blackhawks organization is a coming home of sorts, and should give the AHL squad a bit of a scoring punch for next season.
While an AHL contract doesn’t actually mean Versteeg is part of the Chicago roster, it could potentially lead to an NHL deal if he proves capable. We’ve seen other veterans take similar deals, though they often play on professional tryouts instead of full blown AHL contracts. Lee Stempniak for instance spent time with the Providence Bruins this season before eventually signing a contract with Boston just before the trade deadline in order to be eligible for playoffs. Versteeg could be in a similar situation for 2019-20.