Blackhawks make trade to bring back Kris Versteeg
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The biggest news of the night took place after the Blackhawks defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 5-4 in a shootout at the United Center on Thursday.
Not long after Brandon Pirri scored in the shootout to beat the Coyotes, the Hawks announced they had re-acquired forward Kris Versteeg from Florida in a four-player swap that saw forward Jimmy Hayes and defenseman Dylan Olsen go the Panthers.
The Hawks also got forward Phillippe Lefebvre, who will report directly to the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL.
"Looking at our team this year we're off to a really good start and I think we've come out of the gates the way we wanted to, but we're always trying to improve and wanted to add one more versatile forward to our group," Hawks general manager Stan Bowman said. "We obviously know Kris well from his years here and his ability to play a couple different spots for us."
As part of the trade, the Panthers will pay half of Versteeg's salary of $4.4 million.
Versteeg, a member of the Hawks' 2010 Stanley Cup championship team, had 2 goals and 5 assists this season with the Panthers.
Versteeg is expected to kill penalties, which has been a sore spot for the Hawks. He will join the team for practice on Friday.
"He brings a lot of energy and has a great skill level," Bowman said. "We think it's a great fit."
To make room for Versteeg, the Hawks placed center Michal Handzus and defenseman Michael Kostka on long-term injured reserve. They also returned Jeremy Morin and Alex Broadhurst to Rockford.
As for the game, Pirri might still be a work in progress defensively, but there's nothing wrong with his offense.
The rookie center tied the game with a tip-in of a Brent Seabrook shot three minutes into the third period then produced the game-winner with a goal in the shootout.
Coyotes goalie Mike Smith made 48 saves, but he couldn't stop Pirri's tip or the shootout attempt that beat him through the five-hole.
"He's a big guy and you've got to make him move," Pirri said. "I tried to make him go east-west and saw a little opening."
The win made the Hawks 7-0-1 in their last eight games.
Smith had another run-in with Andrew Shaw in the third period and drew a roughing penalty.
"I asked the ref, 'What else do you want me to do? I have nowhere else to go,'" Smith said. "He thought that our guy had pushed their guy into me, but it's a tough one."
Smith admitted he was frustrated with Shaw, who was suspended for bumping Smith in the playoffs two years ago.
"He has a reputation of, two years ago, knocking me out and that was kind of a dirty play back in front again," Smith said. "I've talked about it numerous times with the league. We're talking about vulnerable hits. It's a goalie down in front and we're trying to make a save and a guy sticks his elbow out and that's attempt to injure, as far as I'm concerned."
The Hawks also got goals from Brandon Saad, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa.
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