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Kris Versteeg trying to ignore trade talk

Mar 2, 2010, 9:15 AM EDT

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Kris Versteeg will be getting some attention at the trade deadline,
but it’s certainly not because of how great he’s been playing lately.
The right wing has just one point in his last eight games and hasn’t
scored a goal since January 9th. For the season he has just 13 goals in
58 games and with the Blackhawks facing salary-cap hell, there’s almost a
certainty he’ll be traded.

Of course, teams might be a bit
hesitant. Here’s another example of a player underperfoming after
signing a big contract, this time worth $3 million a year. What has to
be frustrating for the Hawks, who will want to get max value for a young
player, not just dumping salary, is that Versteeg was actually playing
worse as the Olympic break approached.

Versteeg is one of several players who entered the break in a slump,
which included playing only 4:54 in the Hawks’ last game. He said the
looming trade deadline hasn’t been a factor, although
others have said it could be a distraction.

”I just have to go out there and work hard. Whatever happens
happens,” he said.

There’s no doubt teams will be very interested — Versteeg has just
two NHL seasons under his belt; hard to say he’s not living up to his
potential now. But you have to wonder if his one good season last year
was an anomaly, or if he truly peaked and a 15-20 goal scorer is what he
is. That’s not bad; but is that worth trading for and acquiring a $3
million per year contract?

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