The Calgary Flames may get a much needed offensive boost prior to this year’s NHL trade deadline, but not on the trade market. No, the Flames’ biggest addition for the stretch drive may just be injured forward Kris Versteeg.
According to multiple reports, Versteeg is inching close to a return following his rehab from hip surgery early this season. The 31-year-old veteran winger returned to the ice yesterday afternoon and skated on his own, running through some basic stick handling and shooting drills, according to a report from Postmedia writer Wes Gilbertson:
Versteeg has been on the Flames injured reserve since November 24th and underwent successful hip surgery on December 1st. Since then, he's been rehabbing the surgery in the hopes of returning before the playoffs and yesterday's developments certainly are encouraging. Still, it's important to note that while Versteeg is back on the ice, he's still a ways away from rejoining his Flames teammates for game action.
In fact, Sportsnet commentator Roger Millions warned fans not to get too excited for a Versteeg return just yet:
The 31-year-old Versteeg had just three goals and eight points in 22 games when he went down with injury, but his 15 goals and 37 points in jury 69 games from last season indicate that he has more offensive production to give. He has a natural chemistry with Flames superstar Johnny Gaudreau, so it'll be interesting to see how head coach Glen Gulutzan utilizes Versteeg when he's back to full health.
The Flames have stumbled a bit lately, winning one, losing one and failing to gain any real traction in the NHL's Western Conference playoff race. With a healthy Versteeg up front and a healthy Mike Smith in goal though... there's no telling how far this team can go.