The Calgary Flames’ intention when they brought Kris Versteeg aboard literal days before the start of the season was to have the veteran winger slot in as an effective depth winger. He’s played that role perfectly early this campaign, but Calgary is going to have to do without him for much of the next month.
Versteeg, 30, left the Flames’ Thursday tilt against the San Jose Sharks with an apparent lower-body injury after skating just 3:19 in the outing, and it was later reported that he had been sent back to Calgary in order to be evaluated. The hope was the injury might just keep him out of the lineup for a few nights, but the reality is much worse than that.
According to Sportsnet 960’s Derek Wills, the Flames are expecting to be without Versteeg for at least 2-3 weeks thanks to a groin injury and he's been placed on the injured reserve. That’s a significant absence given how compact Calgary’s schedule is going to be in the middle of the month.
From Nov. 10 to Nov. 21, the Flames have seven games and two sets of back-to-backs, and only two of the games over that span, against the Arizona Coyotes and in Buffalo against the Sabres, are against teams at or around the bottom of the league’s standings. Realistically, Versteeg could miss more than a dozen games.
Versteeg’s offensive punch has helped this season, as he’s chipped in two goals and four points in the first 11 games before having to exit the 12th game of the season early. However, losing Versteeg isn’t akin to losing one of the top-six forwards such as Johnny Gaudreau or Sean Monahan.
That said, Versteeg’s versatility will be missed from Calgary’s lineup. Versteeg is able to play either wing and he’s been up and down, in and out of the top- and bottom-six over the course of the campaign. He’s skated as much as 16:12 in a single game this season, but has also skated 12 or less minutes in four outings.
With Versteeg out, it appears Freddie Hamilton will get back into the Flames’ lineup, and some minor line juggling will see Johnny Gaudreau skate beside Sam Bennett and Troy Brouwer, who have been Versteeg’s normal linemates for much of the campaign. Calgary has also called up Hunter Shinkaruk from the AHL's Stockton Flames. In seven games this season, Shinkaruk has four goals and seven points.
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