Kris Versteeg returns to Blackhawks in 4-player deal; Panthers eat salary

If nothing else, the Chicago Blackhawks just bettered their odds in rap battles.

Kris Versteeg, whose gritty game and rhyme-kicking at a Stanley Cup parade endeared him to Chicago Blackhawks fans, was traded by the Florida Panthers to the Hawks along with Phillippe Lefebrve in exchange for forward Jimmy Hayes and defenseman Dylan Olsen.

As part of the deal, the Panthers pay half of Versteeg’s salary through the duration of his contract. He has two more seasons after this one at $4.4 million against the cap. According to Cap Geek, the Panthers and Blackhawks share that hit, with both carrying $2.2 million against the cap.

Said Hawks GM Stan Bowman:

“We are excited to bring Kris back to Chicago and are pleased to add a player with his experience and versatility to our lineup. Kris is well respected within our organization and will be able to make a seamless transition to our team because of his familiarity with many of our players and with Coach Quenneville. This move strengthens our team depth and Kris’ skill is a great complement to our current roster.”

Lefebrve reported to Toledo of the ECHL. Versteeg comes in as Michal Handzus went on IR with an “upper body injury.”

Obviously, for the cap hit, it’s a coup for Bowman. Versteeg, 27, scored 23 goals in 2011-12 before injuries limited him to 10 games last season and reduced ice time – including being a healthy scratch – limited him to 2 goals in 18 games.

One gets the sense that this happy reunion could spark Versteeg’s game. It’s a change on the fly for Bowman, as the team’s been winning. Bye-bye Jeremy Morin?

As for the Panthers, GM Dale Tallon said:

“We are pleased to welcome both Jimmy and Dylan to the Panthers.

“Jimmy is a young, strong, hardworking, versatile forward who brings both size and skill to our team. Dylan, a former first round draft pick, is a young, solid defenseman who adds further depth to our blue line. We thank Kris for his contributions to the Panthers, including helping us win the 2011-2012 Southeast Division Championship, and wish him the best of luck in his return to Chicago.”

Tallon drafted Olsen when he was GM of the Blackhawks.

Hey, if Vinny Viola, the Panthers’ new owner, is cool with eating half the contract, getting two young players with NHL experience that can play immediately for what amounts to a sell-off that didn't want to be a Panther anymore isn’t bad. Hayes, in particular, could flourish in Florida. That doesn’t excuse the 4-year deal they handed him in 2012.

Is wasn't an easy trade to make, as George Richards tweeted: