Thanks to Kris Versteeg's first career hat trick, the Florida Panthers now lead the Southeast Division after a 5-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets.
The Hockey News describes Florida Panthers forward Kris Versteeg as a "quality scoring forward with versatility." Yet, in four NHL seasons, Versteeg only has 70 goals entering Thursday's game with the Winnipeg Jets. Versteeg made his first real case for being that quality scoring forward when his first career hat trick led the Panthers to a 5-2 win over the Jets.
Versteeg has bounced around considerably since being a part of the Chicago Blackhawks' Stanley Cup team in 2010. After that season, he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, but didn't last the entire season there before being traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in February 2011. On the first day of free agency, Versteeg was one of what seemed like dozens of free agents to sign with the Panthers.
Florida jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to Versteeg's two rebound goals and sealed the victory with an empty net goal. Versteeg now has eight goals and nine assists this season, which leads the Panthers. Last season, Versteeg didn't score his eighth goal until December 4. He's only played in 15 games, but is only 15 goals away from setting a new career-high in scoring.
Led by Versteeg, the Panthers now lead the Southeast Division by one point over the Washington Capitals. When was the last time that sentence was ever written?