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Kris Versteeg out for year with knee injury, as another trade chip breaks for Panthers

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When the Florida Panthers lost Stephen Weiss to season-ending wrist surgery, they lost a player who would have been coveted at the trade deadline as a No. 2 center and impending UFA. Sigh …

Well, at least the Panthers still had a player like Kris Versteeg they could peddle at the deadline: a solid winger with playoff experience, locked into a $4.4 million cap hit through 2016.

That is, until he undergoes season-ending knee surgery this week, according to George Richards of the Miami Herald. Double-sigh …

Here’s how Versteeg’s season ended, on a knee-on-knee hit from Radko Gudas of the Tampa Bay Lightning (in his NHL debut) on Tuesday night:

Said Gudas after the hit:

"It’s the type of my game. I play the body," Gudas said. "I wasn’t going to hurt him or anything. I went for the puck and turned my back to him and he kind of tried to jump around me. It’s something that happens in hockey. I obviously didn’t want him to get hurt or anything. I hope he’s okay."

Well, he wasn’t. But in fairness, it’s not like he’s the first Panther injured this season. Heck, he missed 13 games earlier in the year with a chest injury.

So what voodoo curse has befallen this franchise? Is it because Club Red is an affront to the Hockey Gods, as The Rat Trick opines? Or did Dale Tallon actually forge a pact with Satan himself to win a division title last season in exchange for a season from hell in 2013?

We’re guessing the latter. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was inventing the charity point.

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