By Allan Muir
In theory, things could get worse for Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon. Jonathan Huberdeau could decide that the shootout's not really his thing anymore. Alexei Kovalev could have signed a five-year deal. Those freaking quarter-sized mosquitoes could set up shop around the ticket windows at the BB&T Center.
The way things are going for Tallon this season, it's just a matter of time before the next little black cloud appears over the head of hockey's answer to Bad Luck Schleprock.
Tallon took another kick in the pants today when he learned that speedy forward Kris Versteeg would need season-ending knee surgery following an awkward collision with Tampa Bay defender Radko Gudas on March 12. Versteeg, who had just returned after missing 13 games with a chest injury, was expected to be shipped off at the trade deadline in exchange for some much-needed futures.
Unlike unrestricted free agents Stephen Weiss and Jose Theodore, Versteeg is under contract for three more seasons, so he won't walk for nothing this summer. But this was considered the window that would allow the Panthers to maximize the return on the veteran winger, and with Florida's other key chips off the table, Versteeg was Tallon's last chance to make a splash before the deadline.
It's another tough break for a team that's had more than its share this season.