After the shocking news today that the Coyotes bought out Antoine Vermette’s contract, hockey insiders and analysts deconstructed the transaction. The big question now is if Vermette will find another team to land with before the start of the 2016-17 season.
Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski sees this as a logical move for both sides. A deep dive shows the wisdom in Wyshynski’s words.
The Eye Test
Vermette was owed $3.75MM over the next two seasons. He previously made the same amount when he inked a five-year, $18.75MM deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2010. Thanks to a career year during the 2009-10 season that saw a 65 point campaign, Vermette cashed in. He never reached that total again, but still had productive seasons.
His playoff totals also helped his stock with the Coyotes in 2011-12, and then scored some timely goals during the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup run in 2014-15. He found his way back to the desert the following season, registering 38 points (17-21) in 76 games.
Though he did see his ice time decrease with the Blackhawks, Vermette was still viewed as a valuable commodity. The value certainly was there, and the Coyotes simply re-signed a player they were comfortable with.
Puck Daddy’s Josh Cooper shared a tweet that honed in on the advanced stats attached to Vermette. The results revealed a player with declining performance. Vermette was not justifying the $3.75MM he was costing the Coyotes. This is a team being rebuilt by an analytics strategist with young talent waiting in the wings. There wasn’t a lot of motivation for general manager John Chayka to take ice time away from players he purportedly would rather see out there. The full reasoning was laid out in Chayka’s team release.
Where will he go?
Vermette still has value, it’s just a matter of what he would want financially and in terms of ice time. He’s still only 34 years old, and presumably has at least 2-3 years of hockey left in him. Though teams wouldn’t acquire him via trade, that was when he held a nearly $4MM cap hit. Now a free agent, acquiring a 40 point player at a significant discount is certainly an attractive option. Craig Morgan tweets that he expects Vermette to generate some interest.
In terms of compatibles, 26-year-old Sam Gagner fetched just $650K on the open market. Sure, he had a significant drop off in terms of production (41 points to 16), but he’s still younger. Compared to his past performance, it appeared an anomaly to his normally consistent self. But that anomaly cost him financially.
Expect Vermette to be plucked off the free agent heap–just at a more cap friendly price.