Being traded is not a new experience for forward Kris Versteeg. Neither is winning a Stanley Cup.
Versteeg, who helped the Chicago Blackhawks capture the Cup this past season, was obtained Friday by the Carolina Hurricanes in a trade that included forward Joakim Nordstrom.
The Canes, who also picked up a third-round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, sent defensemen Dennis Robertson and Jake Massie to the Blackhawks along with the Canes’ fifth-round pick in 2017.
“Kris has won a couple of Cups, has experience and a very high-end skill level that can help us,” Canes general manager Ron Francis said Friday. “We’re excited to have him. Any time you can bring in a player who has been successful and knows what it takes to be successful, it will help you on the ice and in the locker room.”
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Versteeg, 29, had 14 goals and 29 assists in 61 games last season for the Blackhawks, who topped Tampa Bay in the Stanley Cup finals. The native of Lethbridge, Alberta, had two points in 12 playoff games, adding a second Stanley Cup ring to one he won with the Blackhawks in 2010.
“I only have one goal when I come to a hockey team: try to win a Stanley Cup,” Versteeg said Friday. “When you leave a team there’s a sense of sadness a bit. But I’m a pretty optimistic person. There’s an excitement that comes with a new challenge. There are always obstacles and challenges in life, and I try to meet them head-on.”
Versteeg has twice been caught in salary-cap squeezes that resulted in him being traded by Chicago. After the Blackhawks’ 2010 Cup run, he was sent to the Toronto Maple Leafs, who then moved him to the Philadelphia Flyers in February 2011.
In July 2011, Versteeg was traded to the Florida Panthers, who won the Southeast Division title in 2011-2012.
“The Panthers had not made it to the playoffs in a while, and I take great pride in helping them get back,” Versteeg said.
Versteeg spent parts of three seasons with the Panthers before being traded back to the Blackhawks in November 2013. He has one year remaining on a contract that has a $4.4 million cap hit, with the Panthers paying half of it.
The Canes traded for defenseman James Wisniewski and goalie Eddie Lack in June but were not active once free agency began. Francis said the Canes preferred to wait and see what players might be available as teams grapple with salary-cap issues.
The Blackhawks, looking to re-sign forward Marcus Kruger, made Versteeg and Nordstrom available. Later Friday, they signed Kruger to a one-year contract.
“This is a great opportunity for me,” Versteeg said. “I had a great talk with Ron Francis, and he said he wanted me to come in and help the team score more and play a 200-foot game. The best role I can fill is to help this team win.”
Nordstrom, 23, played 38 regular-season games for the Blackhawks last season while also spending time with the Rockford IceHogs, the Blackhawks’ American Hockey League team. The 6-foot-1, 189-pound Stockholm native – a former third-round selection by Chicago – also appeared in three Stanley Cup playoff games after playing seven playoff games in 2014.
“He’s a smart player, a reliable player,” Francis said. “(Chicago coach) Joel Quenneville was not afraid to put him out there. He was used on the penalty kill, can play a 200-foot game.”
Francis also said the addition of the third-round pick should not be overlooked. The Canes in the next two drafts now have 10 picks overall in the first three rounds.
Robertson, 24, finished with three goals and 14 assists in 57 games for the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL last season. Massie, 18, was the Hurricanes’ sixth-round draft pick this year.
Versteeg said he first met Canes coach Bill Peters when Peters coached the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns, and the two formed a friendship.
“He’s intense and I know how badly he wants to win,” Versteeg said. “In playing against Carolina, they like to play a fast-paced game. That’s kind of what the league has become as teams try to replicate the teams that have success.”
Note: Defenseman Noah Hanifin, the team’s first-round draft pick this year, should be healthy and ready for the opening of training camp on Friday, Francis said. Hanifin was injured blocking a shot last month in the U.S. team evaluation camp for the 2016 World Junior Championship and is not competing for the Canes in the Traverse City (Mich.) prospects tournament.