When talking to RDS on Tuesday, Antoine Vermette said that he would in fact be interested in an offer from the Montreal Canadiens. Given that it is hardly ever possible to exclude the signing of a former Blackhawk by Marc Bergevin, the question must be posed; Would that be a good idea?
Well, the short answer is no, but let's go with a longer answer all the same.
Vermette spent played all 76 of his games last year for the Arizona Coyotes, putting up a respectable 17 goals and 21 assists over that span. He was often a top-six player for them, playing a large amount of minutes with the likes of Mikkel Boedker, Max Domi, and Anthony Duclair
So, he had pretty good linemates for the most part, spending most of his time at his natural position of centre, and just over 130 even-strength minutes on Duclair's wing. Since he was bounced around a little, the most effective way to look at how he did would be to look at his individual numbers.
All stats 5-on-5 from Corsica.Hockey. CF%=Corsi For percentage, SF%=Shots for percentage, GF%=Goals for percentage, G/60= Goals per 60 minutes played, A/60=Assists per 60, P/60=Points per 60, PSH=Personal shooting percentage.
They do not paint a pretty picture. When he was on the ice at even strength, his team was out-possessed, outshot, outscored, and he didn't produce scoring of any kind at a high rate despite a solid shooting percentage. This while playing with some of the best players the Coyotes had to offer.
However, a veteran like Vermette can still have some use. If, perhaps, he was used further down the lineup in an exploitation role of sorts against lesser competition, he might be useful. The first comparable in Montreal that comes to mind is the likely third line centre when the season begins, David Desharnais. How do they stack up?
Again, not pretty. The only way in which the two are similar is their goalscoring. By every other metric, Desharnais has a huge edge over Vermette. Clearly, even if the Canadiens were to move Desharnais, Vermette would not be a suitable replacement.
But like Vermette, Desharnais did get to spend time with solid players in Montreal, such as Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk So perhaps Vermette would stack up better against someone like Torrey Mitchell?
Closer, but still no cigar. Mitchell plays more of a shutdown role, and Vermette simply can't replace what he does for the lineup, particularly when it comes to shot suppression. Mitchell also produced goals at a better rate, despite being in that role and not having the same quality linemates. Once again, Vermette falls short of being able to replace a bottom-six centre on the Canadiens.
Just for kicks, let's give him one last shot, and see how he stacks up against the youngster who figures to be challenging for a roster spot this year, Phillip Danault.
Offensively, sure. But let's again remember the quality of linemates Vermette had. Defensively, Danault absolutely crushes him. It's no contest. As such, there is no way you can justify taking a bottom-six spot for Vermette when the younger, better Danault is waiting in the wings.
Unless Canadiens management views Vermette as a legitimate option for them in the top-six, which is clearly not the case considering his stats, he's not a viable option at all. At 34-years-old, he's not getting any younger, and the Canadiens have seriously good young talent that they need to develop.
He's not an upgrade on any of the guys in the bottom-six, he doesn't fit in the top-six, and there's really no way to shoehorn him into the lineup without pushing out one of those aforementioned youngsters.
If we were talking about a young Vermette, There might be more of a discussion here. However, we're not, and all statistical signs point to signing him as being a very bad idea.