Kris Versteeg has taken to Calgary.
The Flames forward told Kristen Odland of Postmedia that re-signing in Calgary this off-season is the “No. 1” option for him.
“I have my family, I have my friends (in Calgary),” Versteeg said. “I feel like I’ve made a lot of good friends on the team and in the organization. Here is where my heart is, especially right now.”
Versteeg joined the Flames one a one-year, $950,000 contract just ahead of the season opener, rejecting a deal with the Edmonton Oilers, with whom the 30-year-old had been skating with in training camp.
He has 12 goals and 25 points on a Flames team that has won its last seven contests and is poised to make its second playoff appearance in three seasons.
Calgary is Versteeg’s seventh team since becoming a full-time NHLer with Chicago in 2008-09. He’s won a Stanley Cup twice – both coming with the Blackhawks in separate stints – but has battled injuries in the past.
The Lethbridge, Alta., native’s NHL career appeared to be over this past off-season, but a contract with SC Bern of Switzerland’s National League A fell apart due to health concerns, and Versteeg came back to North America, joining the Oilers on a professional tryout agreement.
Some minor injuries kept Versteeg out of the lineup for 12 games in the early goings of the season, but the veteran has appeared in 54 of Calgary’s 66 games overall. He appears to have found his niche with the Flames, and could see himself coming back next season and beyond
“I would love to be here,” he said. “This has been an amazing year for me. It started off a little rough with getting hurt at the start of the year and then not knowing where I was going to fit in the lineup.
“Since I came back from that (groin) injury, I was finding my way into the lineup and finding my role on the team. It’s been exciting.”