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Versteeg’s goal: be ready for Panthers’ season opener


A week of positive news for the Florida Panthers continued on Thursday, as it appears that key winger Kris Versteeg’s knee rehab could be ahead of schedule.

The 27-year-old required season-ending knee surgery in March, and following that procedure, he estimated that he might be ready to play again in November. That recovery process has apparently gone better than expected, however, as he told the Miami Herald that he’s shooting to play in the Panthers season opener on Oct. 3.

“It’s a long process but my goal is to be ready for the start of the season,’' Versteeg said. “I guess we’ll see how training camp goes. I don’t want to go into a regular season game without knowing what training camp is like. I think I’ll be there for most of it. That’s my goal.”

Versteeg skated with teammates on Thursday, so if nothing else, things are moving in the right direction.

After a breakout debut with the Panthers where he scored 23 goals and 54 points in 71 games in 2011-12, Versteeg was limited to 10 games in 2013 (collecting four points).

The Panthers haven’t made big renovations despite a lousy 2013 season, so getting a healthy Versteeg would be a significant boost.


Jonathan Huberdeau beefs up over the summer

Sean Bergenheim and Ed Jovanovski could return to the mix, too

Follow James O’Brien @cyclelikesedins