Veteran forward Kris Versteeg surprised fans this summer when he opted not to sign a new free agent deal in the NHL, instead opting to head for Switzerland to play overseas.
Problems with his medical status and acquiring insurance in the Swiss-A league, though, left the former Chicago Blackhawks mainstay without his European deal. He instead moved back to North America – where he signed a pro tryout deal with the Edmonton Oilers of the Pacific Division.
He hasn’t inked a standard player contract with the Oilers during training camp, so there’s no guarantee. Based on what head coach Todd McLellan has said, though, things are looking positive for Versteeg and his chances at making the final roster.
According to a statement released via Twitter by the Oilers themselves, McLellan has liked what he’s seen during training camp:
“We’re going to play him a lot to see what he can do. We’ve admired his game so far.”
Drafted 134th overall by the Boston Bruins in 2004, Versteeg has won the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks on two separate occasions and racked up 313 points in 553 career NHL games. Last year, he seemed to still be a serviceable forward, as well; through a combined 77 regular season games for the Los Angeles Kings and the Carolina Hurricanes, the 30-year-old right wing put up 15 goals and 38 points.
His issues obtaining insurance to play in Switzerland certainly raise some eyebrows, and may be why he isn’t inked to a new deal already. If Versteeg is able to – while healthy – produce like he did last year, though, the Oilers would certainly benefit from bringing him on board.