3 teams that should take a chance on Antoine Vermette
In a seemingly surprising move on Monday, the Arizona Coyotes announced they were buying out the contract of Antoine Vermette.
The 34-year-old is coming off a season that saw him finish just three goals shy of the 20-goal mark and with a respectable 38 points in 76 games. Additionally, he remains one of the games better faceoff men, finishing last year with the 17th-best success rate at 55.8 percent.
His best years are clearly behind him, but Vermette can still be a solid depth option at center, providing offense and a critical faceoff win in dire situations.
Here are three teams that should consider taking a run at Vermette:
Heading into next season the Calgary Flames could use a boost at the center position.
Behind the likes of Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund, the club boasts the likes of Hunter Shinkaruk and Matt Stajan down the middle of the ice. Vermette would be an instant upgrade offensively over the latter two who combined for eight goals last season (noting Shinkaruk spent the majority of the year in the AHL).
The Flames could also use some help at the faceoff dot after finishing 27th in the league with a 48.6 percent success rate.
On top of his on-ice contributions, Vermette's off-ice accolades could be just as valuable to the Flames, who ice a young forward contingent with just two players over the age of 30.
Vermette could provide leadership to the young squad and teach the youngsters what it takes to capture a cup after doing so as a late acquisition by the 2015 Stanley Cup champs Chicago Blackhawks.
The Buffalo Sabres have some promising prospects coming up their pipeline but for one problem, few of them play center.
Sam Reinhart and Evander Kane both have experience playing center, but both have spent the majority of their time on the wing. That leaves Ryan O'Reilly and Jack Eichel with the first two spots locked down, but the bottom two center positions up for grabs.
Zemgus Girgensons and Johan Larsson occupy those spots, but both fail to put up the offense that Vermette has and like so many others, fail to share the elder's faceoff proficiency.
The Sabres, much like the Flames, are a fairly young squad - with the fourth-youngest roster, according to nhlnumbers.com - and could use another veteran voice in the dressing room.
If ever there was a team that needed help on faceoffs it would be the Vancouver Canucks.
The team finished with a league-worst 45.4 percent success-rate last season, with Bo Horvat as the only member of the team who played more than 40 games with a win percentage higher than 50 percent (50.9).
Right away it is clear that for Vermette to get a spot with the team, the club would likely have to make room. The most likely way to do so would be to plug Vermette in for Markus Granlund - who managed just six goals and 10 points split between the Canucks and the Flames.
After Brandon Sutter missed all but 20 games last season, having Vermette available could prove invaluable should another injury occur.