Yesterday, Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka made the somewhat surprising decision to place veteran center Antoine Vermette on waivers for the purpose of buying out the final year of his contract. By all accounts Vermette didn’t have his best season in 2015-16 but still netted 38 points, including 16 on the power play, in 76 games. But in the club’s release announcing the move, Chayka cited the desire to give opportunities to some of the organization’s young players, including perhaps top prospects Christian Dvorak and Dylan Strome.
Regardless of why he’s now available, a player with Vermette’s track record is likely going to draw a fair amount of interest from other clubs. However, the Boston Bruins should not be among those teams, at least that’s the opinion of Joe Haggerty writing for CSNNE.com.
Haggerty argues that signing the 34-year-old Vermette doesn’t mesh with the Bruins’ desire to get younger. I’d argue there isn’t much of a fit in Bean Town since the Bruins already boast Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci at the center position. The team also added David Backes as a free agent and he comes with plenty of experience in the middle. Even if they decided to play Backes on the wing, Boston lists 24-year-old Ryan Spooner as a center and he is coming off a career high 49-point season. There just doesn’t seem to be room for Vermette on this roster.
Now, more from around the league.
- The list of available free agents may increase by one as Allan Walsh, the agent for former NHLer Martin Havlat, has indicated via tweet his client is currently training with HC Kometa Brno in the Czech League with the intent of returning to the NHL next season. Havlat appeared in just two contests for the St. Louis Blues in 2015-16 before leaving the club for “personal reasons.” He had earned a job with the team after signing a PTO in October. Prior to his abbreviated stint with St. Louis, Havlat had skated in 788 NHL games, spending time with Ottawa, Chicago, Minnesota, San Jose and New Jersey. At one point Havlat was one of the league’s top young offensive players, tallying 31 goals and 37 assists for the Senators in 2003-04, playing most of the season as a 22-year-old. Those prolific scoring days are long gone and in recent seasons Havlat has produced roughly 0.5 Pts/Game. That doesn’t mean a team won’t take a flier on the talented Czech in hopes he can produce even at that level and hold down a regular spot in their top-nine on the cheap.
- The expansion Las Vegas franchise continues to assemble its front office staff with the club announcing the hiring of Kelly McCrimmon as assistant general manager. McCrimmon, has been the majority owner, GM and head coach of the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL. He has won the WHL’s Executive of the Year award three times since 1995. It was reported earlier this summer that Las Vegas had requested permission from Washington to interview their assistant GM, Ross Mahoney, for the same role. Of course GM George McPhee knows Mahoney well from their days together in the Capitals front office so the potential fit was obvious. It’s not known whether Washington refused permission for Vegas to speak with Mahoney or if the club just elected to go in a different direction.
- In other management news, the Edmonton Oilers are expected to name Keith Gretzky as an assistant GM, a recent rumor all but confirmed via tweet from Bob McKenzie of TSN. Gretzky is of course the brother of Wayne and has served as the director of amateur scouting for the Boston Bruins, where he worked under current Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli. Obviously Gretzky made a good impression on Chiarelli during their time together in Boston.