No other NHL team has had as much success with professional tryout (PTO) contracts as the New Jersey Devils in recent years. The Devils seemingly have a knack for turning PTO contracts into NHL contracts, signing both Lee Stempniak and Jimmy Hayes to deals after impressive training camp and preseason performances in recent years.
In his latest article for NJ.com, New Jersey Devils reporter Chris Ryan points to unsigned veteran Kris Versteeg as a possibility for the Devils ahead of training camp later this summer. Despite some strong play in an injury plagued season with the Calgary Flames last season, the 32 year old Versteeg remains unsigned with the offseason now officially halfway over. He played just 24 games for the Flames in 2017-18, scoring three goals and eight points. But, he’s just a season removed from an impressive 15 goal and 37 point campaign in 2016-17.
Here's Ryan's take on Versteeg and his potential fit with the Devils:
Injuries cost Kris Versteeg most of his 2017-18 season, where he played just 24 games. But in the four previous seasons, Versteeg posted at least 35 points in all of them, including a 15-goal, 22-assist campaign in 2016-17 with the Flames. As far as adding scoring, Versteeg is one of the better options still out on the market. If he doesn't get a guaranteed deal from a team, he's certainly worth a look.
If Versteeg finds himself in the right position, say on the top line alongside Devils snipers Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier, then there’s little doubt that he can get back to being a productive offensive player. With Versteeg, the talent has alway been there, it’s just that he’s been plagued by injuries and inconsistencies throughout his entire career.
If however, Versteeg finds himself unable to secure an NHL deal or a training camp invite by the start of the 2018-19 season, he’ll still walk away from the game as a two time Stanley Cup champion and three time 20+ goal scorer. With 149 goals and 358 points in 643 career games, Versteeg’s NHL career is nothing to sneeze at. Still… we’ll always remember him most for his cringe inducing “rapping skills” from the Chicago Blackhawks 2015 Stanley Cup rally.