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Kris Versteeg headed back to North America after Swiss league contract nixed

Kris Versteeg caught many by surprise when he decided to forego NHL offers and sign with Switzerland’s SC Bern. However, Versteeg is heading back to North America already as insurance complications have resulted in him becoming a free agent once again.

Kris Versteeg is still a capable NHL scorer, having potted 15 goals and 38 points in 77 games during the 2015-16 campaign. That’s why his decision to head to the Swiss NLA caught many by surprise. However, it turns out Versteeg is heading back to North America, though it doesn’t appear to be by choice.

TSN’s Darren Dreger reported Monday that Versteeg, 30, is back on the free agent market due to insurance complications that have prevented him from being able to remain a member of Swiss team SC Bern. Though details have not been released, Dreger speculated that a previous hip surgery may have been the reason why Versteeg was not given full coverage. 

Bern released a short statement Tuesday stating that Versteeg did not pass the medical exam, which resulted in him being released from his deal.

Bern’s loss, though, could be a nice gain for an NHL club. Versteeg may have foregone any potential NHL offers in order to latch on with the Swiss club, but with the season fast-approaching and teams preparing for camp, Versteeg has a chance to find either a short-term NHL deal or a professional tryout.

Versteeg came into the league in 2008-09 as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks and rattled off four consecutive 20-goal, 40-point seasons. The past few seasons of Versteeg’s career have been somewhat trying, but he’s still a very capable bottom-six winger and can contribute to a team’s third or fourth line.

Versteeg’s worst year came during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season when he was only able to suit up for 10 games with the Florida Panthers. He scored two goals and four points, but was forced to miss nearly the entire campaign with a lower-body injury. 

He hasn’t been able to get back to being a perennial 20-goal scorer since the injury, but he has been a consistent 15-goal, 35-point threat. As a member of the Carolina Hurricanes this past season, Versteeg contributed 11 goals and 33 points in 63 games while skating in the middle six, and he added another four goals and five points in 14 games down the stretch with the Los Angeles Kings.

The difficult thing for Versteeg now will be landing a deal that has some security. Few veteran players are finding short-term deals and instead landing on PTOs. That could be the route Versteeg is forced to go, but there are a number of teams who will likely take a look at bringing the two-time Stanley Cup champion aboard for cheap.

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