The Florida Panthers, fresh off Tuesday night's upset win at home over the Anaheim Ducks, are in St. Paul tonight, bidding for their first winning streak of the campaign. Can they complete a season sweep of the Minnesota Wild and actually build some momentum for a change? It could be daunting task for coach Peter Horachek's club, since losing to Panthers in Sunrise back on October 19th, Minnesota has posted a stellar 8-1-1 record.
If you didn't catch the late news, last night GM Dale Tallon traded Kris Versteeg, along with minor-leaguer Philippe Lefebvre, to the Chicago Blackhawks for forward prospect Jimmy Hayes and defensive prospect Dylan Olsen.
The trade was not a surprising one. In my eyes, Versteeg was one of the those players who didn't appear to want to be a Panther that Tallon talked about accommodating after firing coach Kevin Dineen. Unfortunately, it looks like part of the deal was the Cats being left on the hook for half of Versteeg's salary for the rest of this season and then the remaining two years on his contract. A necessary evil, I suppose.
You can circle back to Donny's original article on the breaking news and vote in the poll here.
Here's a look at the players the Panthers got back in the trade:
Jimmy Hayes is a product of the U.S. National Team Development Program. He was taken in the second round of the 2008 Entry Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs and acquired by the Blackhawks for their second round selection in the 2010 draft. Hayes played three seasons at Boston College before joining the Rockford IceHogs at the conclusion of his collegiate career. During the 2011-12 season, Hayes split his time between Rockford and the parent Blackhawks. He played 31 games with Chicago and scored 5 goals while adding 4 assists. With Rockford, he played 33 games and notched 7 goals and 16 assists. The next season saw Hayes play 67 games with the IceHogs, where scored 25 goals and added 20 assists. He also appeared in 10 games with Chicago and scored 1 goal and 3 assists. This season, Hayes made two scoreless appearances with the Blackhawks and has picked up 8 points (4G/4A) in 13 games with Rockford. The 23-year-old Hayes is huge, standing 6'6" and weighing in at 221-pounds. He has proven he can score at the AHL level and his 13 points in 43 career games with Chicago are a promising sign that he can at least be a role player in the NHL.
Dylan Olsen is a 6'2" 210-pound defenseman from Calgary, AB. After spending a few seasons with the Camrose Kodiaks of the AJHL, he was drafted in the first round (28th overall) by the Blackhawks at the 2009 Entry Draft. Olsen played NCAA hockey for Minnesota-Duluth, and was a member of Canada's 2011 entry at the World Junior Championship, where he captured a silver medal. He signed an ELC during the tournament after being ruled academically ineligible to return to UMD. The young blueliner currently has logged 152 games in the AHL, all with Rockford. He has scored a career total of 6 goals and 24 assists in those games, while racking up 89 PIM and a -24 rating. Olsen is off to a good start this season, and seemingly on his way to some career highs, with 8 assists in 16 games, to go along with a +3 rating. The 22-year-old defender does have NHL experience too, appearing in 28 games for the injury-riddled Blackhawks during the 2011-12 season, where he picked up one assist, while finishing with a -5 rating and 6 PIM. He also appeared in one playoff game, against Phoenix, that season for Chicago. Olsen has size, decent skating ability and a heavy shot, but it seems his development stalled over the last couple of years. He will need to continue his strong start to the season with Rockford, in San Antonio, if he hopes to make it back to the NHL anytime soon.
Keep it here to discus the trade or anything else that's on your mind and then come back for Kevin's preview of game number 20 this afternoon right after 3 p.m.