The Chicago Blackhawks continued their roster transformation Friday by trading forward Kris Versteeg to the Carolina Hurricanes.
According to Terrell Williams of the Canes' official website, Chicago sent Versteeg, forward Joakim Nordstrom and a 2017 third-round pick to Carolina in exchange for defensemen Dennis Robertson and Jake Massie, as well as a 2017 fifth-round pick.
The 29-year-old Versteeg has been rumored to be on the move for much of the offseason due to his $4.4 million salary in 2015-16, per Spotrac. By trading him to Carolina and cutting costs, it will be far easier for the Blackhawks to get under the salary cap in time for the upcoming campaign.
Versteeg totaled 14 goals and 34 assists this past season with Chicago, and he has 275 points in 473 career games. He enjoyed two fruitful stints with the Blackhawks, as well as runs with the Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers in between.
Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis explained the rationale behind the trade from Carolina's perspective, according to Williams:
Kris is a skilled forward who has won a pair of Cups with the Blackhawks and can provide veteran leadership in our room. Joakim is a solid, 200-foot player who can kill penalties. This gives us more options up front for this season, while also now giving us 10 picks in the first three rounds over the next two drafts.
With this trade, the Blackhawks have now parted ways with 10 players who were on their Stanley Cup-winning squad this past season, per NHL Numbers:
That is the nature of the beast in the NHL due to the salary cap, and while Chicago still has plenty of talent, it is possible that losing so much depth will catch up with it during the upcoming campaign.
Forward Jonathan Toews and defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook will continue to be the team's linchpins, but there is uncertainty regarding forward Patrick Kane, who is the subject of a sexual assault case that is being investigated by a grand jury.
Chicago was on top of the hockey world just a few short months ago, but dealing a fan favorite like Versteeg is another example of just how tough it is to keep a great team together.
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