Antoine Vermette

Antoine Vermette Finding A Groove – Finally

To say Antoine Vermette’s play was underwhelming after he was acquired at the trade deadline is being modest.

The veteran center, who averaged 18:59 per night and had 35 points in 63 games for a bad Arizona team, had only three assists in 19 games with the Blackhawks before the end of the regular season. He saw his ice time cut back and his role diminish with each week, finishing with an average ice time total of barely 14 minutes in an Indian head sweater. He won only 50 percent of his faceoffs, and struggled for stretches at the dot that failed the (perhaps unfairly) lofty expectations that met him upon arriving in Chicago.

When coach Joel Quenneville made him a healthy scratch in the first two games of the playoffs, fans were calling for the heads of the player, coach and General Manager Stan Bowman for giving up a first round pick to acquire a needed piece in the wake of Patrick Kane’s injury.

However, since returning to the lineup, Hawks fans are now seeing the player who was worthy of the steep price paid by the organization. And consistency in his linemates has translated into increased production, and quality of play, from Vermette.

Skating on the Hawks’ third line between Patrick Sharp and, now, Teuvo Teravainen, Vermette has looked more comfortable. He has been dominant at the dot in the postseason, winning 63.5 percent of his faceoffs, and has developed some nice chemistry with Sharp and Teravainen. He has one goal and one assist in six games, but his plus-five rating is a stark contrast from the minus-25 he posted during the regular season. Also, Vermette has the highest 5-on-5 PDO on the Hawks roster (111.11).

With Sharp (four goals, four assists) and Teravainen (one goal, two assists in only four games), the Hawks third line has combined for 13 points in these playoffs and have been flying since they were put together in the Game One of the second round. The trio has combined for six points in the first two games of the series, and Vermette is proving to be precisely what the Hawks hoped to add when they made the deal with Arizona.

34 thoughts on “Antoine Vermette Finding A Groove – Finally

  1. So in other words, have a little patience. It takes time for most guys to adjust, some longer than others.

    As was said by several, the time to judge the deadline trades is after the season, not after a regular season loss in March.

    However, if there’s a similar situation next year and a trade deadline acquisition doesn’t immediately set the world on fire, I’m sure the torches and pitchforks will be out again, because fans have short memories and sadly there’s no accountability for overreactions.

  2. By the way, this is as good a place as any, the IceHogs draw Grand Rapids in Round 2 with Games 1 & 2 in Michigan Wed. and Friday. Games 3,4,5 are in Rockford, next Wed. Thurs, and Sunday. A 2-3-2 format. Rockford struggled with Grand Rapids this year, curious to see how they play as the playoffs go deeper.

    If nothing else, the players will be rested and prepared. Much of the player development staff has been around the team lately.

  3. The Vermette we’ve seen in the last two games is the Vermette we’ve known from back in his Ottawa days. In a word – tenacious. He probably doesn’t have the offensive skills to be considered a good 2C, but his offensive skills are good enough when combined with his all around play. Two games are not enough to enshrine the guy in Blackhawk lore, but if he continues to play this way he will be a big cog in the Hawks chances to keep playing until they bring Stanley out onto the ice.

  4. Vermette was a good addition by Stan Jr. regardless of how he has turned out (which his recent play is perfectly timed.) The Hawks have been weak up the middle the past few years (Handzus as painful example), and SB adding 91 this year has also proved to be a great signing. 80 is playing physical, relentless hockey and doing well at the dot (as he has historically.) Gives Q so many more options and opposing teams matchup problems. In fact, even with the next couple games in Minny, we’re talking about our 5-6th D as our problem (and rightfully so.) Last year or 2 it’s been Toews getting burned out as the only FO specialist we could count on.

    As for next year, I’d be on same page as other poster suggesting that in addition to signing 20, we need to figure who gets cut in order to keep at least 3x current key cogs at C for next year. That includes 16 and 80 imo (does 91 have another year in him?) Strength up the middle- it’s beautiful!

  5. Negzz – “Vermette was a good addition by Stan Jr. regardless of how he has turned out”. Really? That doesn’t make a lot of sense. It would be fine if they just picked him off the street and not traded assets. When you’re a vet that gets paid $3.75 mil, there are some reasonable expectations. He isn’t a prospect that’s getting used to the NHL. I agree he has finally started contributing. I obviously don’t think his rental time was worth a #1 and a good prospect. All I expect from him is to keep the F.O. % up and play good D. That’s what this team needs now.

  6. Vermette is a nice player because he is above average in alot of areas, he plays a 200 ft game and has enough offensive touch to make other teams respect him. He was very physical last night which is a nice thing for this team which at times lacks that aspect to their game.

    Its nice to see him contributing to this run! Like I said in the other post, when the Hawks play the game they played last night, forget it,…Untouchable! Vermette was a big reason why they played that game!

  7. Vermette becomes worthy of the #1 if a) the Blackhawks win the Cup and b) if the organization sees him as a part of the team beyond this postseason. If not, that’s a steep price for a 40-game rental.

    That being said, it’s great to see him turning it around. Being between a couple studs like Sharp & Teravainen obviously helps.

  8. So right Tab. Being allowed to play center helps too. We got the guy because he is a good 2 way center that dominates in the face off circle and when he was playing wing you could read the confusion in his mind during interviews. Thank the hockey gods for Versteeg getting hurt so TT could play.

  9. Great to see him settle in. Have always liked his game and his skill at the dot. Winning face offs this time of year is huge, especially for a puck possession team like us. And being flanked by Sharp and TT just looks like it’s right in his comfort zone.

  10. In my opinion, acquiring Vermette was the right move to make regardless of the steep price and how well he works out. It was a gamble worth taking considering the impending Cap purge after this season – the “go for it” mindset. The last thing we wanted was to get bounced out of the playoffs because we couldn’t compete at the center position like what happened last season against the Kings. Most Hawks fans (including me) have lamented the players Stan has acquired at the TDL the past 4-5 years and there would have been an angry mob had Stan let one of our competitors land the best center on the market – so Stan paid a steep price and went “all in”, and I, for one, applauded him for it at the time and still do. It was the right move to make at that time.

    But I have a good feeling that maybe it will still work out quite well.

  11. It never ceases to amaze me how much a little confidence can do for a top player. Vermette’s body language is a complete reversal of what he showed in the regular season. I saw a video of the bench as the clock ticked down at the end of the Nashville series and Vermette looked like a little kid celebrating. Personally I think it has hit him that he really has a great shot at winning a cup which is a strong performance enhancing drug for a guy that has spent so much on losing teams.

  12. Tab, after the deadline you pointed out that first round picks were not highly valued by GMs in this draft (and we’re talking about a low first round pick at that). I’m not gonna bother rereading, and not busting your balls, but it seems now that you’re a little more down on this trade on paper than when it happened. Vermette absolutely sucking didn’t help, and he should have snatched the #2 center spot based on his past and you’d hope his hunger for a playoff run. Heck, maybe it helped light the fire under Richards. I agree with the Neggz- it was a very good trade on paper, but it hasn’t worked out to potential to this point, so ultimately it’s on Bowman but it’s honestly the fault of the player. On this team it’s clear who the leaders are, and the role players have to do their job and not mope around, good to see him doing a little less of that.

  13. Gravy, It’s ok if my thought process related to AV doesn’t seem to make sense to you, read ER’s post (who gets it), and maybe it will seem more logical. Hockey moves by the GM are not all about how it works out in then end, as those who live by the “he’s a genius” or “he’s a dope” view based on how a player works out have short sighted views on the job (this approach directly correlates to how to run a business, manage life decisions, etc.)

    For example, I could not further disagree with Tabs comment that “he’s worth it only if the Hawks win the Cup”. That’s way off base from my view. In this case:
    1. Hawks were clearly weak at C and the top market asset was available to Hawks due to Kane’s injury and resulting cap space. This situation represented a unique opportunity.
    2. Hawks have a large feeder/farm system of young drafted players that haven’t been able to crack a strong, core dominated lineup. The system is strong with future talent and there are other means of acquiring players (see Tanarin.)
    3. Our #1 pick will/would be at the end of the 1st round, it’s not like we’re skipping the McDavid sweepstakes.
    4. Trading for Vermette not only acquired the best C available in an area of need, it sent a signal to the team that “we’re all in”, a powerful motivator for the team and leadership group.
    5. Therefore- REGARDLESS of how it turns out- it was the RIGHT move and I applaud Stan for making it notwithstanding the outcome. Bottom line, it was a good decision at the time given the variables..

  14. I see both sides of the argument. Bowman’s job is to manage the present and ensure success in the future – not always a simple balancing act.

    I admit to having a bias against giving up 1st round picks, no matter where in the round. if a franchise has good scouting (by most accounts the Blackhawks do now) they should be able to turn up a good player even picking bottom of the round.

    But that’s where the balancing act comes in. You owe it to your players, fans, ownership and so on to go for it when you’re close but have a hole … and you’ve got the cap room to do so. It wasn’t like Bowman was going to get Vermette for less than he gave up – it’s the cost of doing business.

    In lieu of having these draft choices we’ve seen the Blackhawks being highly aggressive landing free agents (Panarin, Gustasson, etc.) and ensuring they get their own graduating good players signed (Paliotta). And that’s good but let’s also remember there are 29 other teams chasing these free agents and you won’t get every one you want. Plus, the player and their agent may think “Chicago’s system is too deep” and choose to sign elsewhere – we’ve seen that happen – and Norm MacIver has come out and said there were other players they wanted to sign but it didn’t happen.

    So you run the risk of not getting these guys vs. a draft choice where you’re ensured to at least get them into your system.

    As fans though, the one thing we can be grateful about is the management team is driven and aggressive. And they get results in terms of acquiring / signing players other teams want.

    I much prefer that to the other side of the coin, which I and many others watched unfold for decades under Bob Pulford.

  15. Hof, Just seeing the name Bob Pulford makes me chuckle. But I agree with you plus if we are selling off some players next year we are likely to add a few picks that way. No question Vermette was a great need filled when the Hawks picked him up and now he is playing the way he was expected to contribute.
    Seeing KHayes last night, it would have been nice to have him but not everything works out the way it should. Adding depth in the organization will offset the loss of cap casualties and I can’t wait to see what this team looks like next year after WE CLAIM THE CUP THIS YEAR. GO HAWKS!!

  16. The jury is still out on the Vermette trade. He has played two strong games in a row. I think putting 86 and 10 with him has given him a new lease on life. If he contributes during the playoff run then you would have to say it worked. If he reverts back to the way he played prior to the last several games then it was a lousy trade. The trade for 44 on the other hand was terrible. The trade for 11 was a wash in my opinion. 11 brings more grit but Smith was better on the pk. The pk has struggled mightily lately.

  17. Since we are talking about future draft picks traded, is anyone else concerned that the conditional draft pick we gave up for Timonen will be turning into a 3rd round pick and potentially a 2nd because we are dressing him to play less than 10 mins per game? Why wouldn’t we dress Rundblad to skate less than 10 mins and keep our 2nd or 3rd round pick in 2016?

  18. Most importantly… if Hawks/SB keep finding/landing Free agent Euro/college kids – like TvR,Baun, Panarin… and this Reilly kid (if it happens)… the “value” of the draft is somewhat diminished…

    I will eat “Crow” as one of the people here who was not in favor of trading picks for Rentals… but in hindsight- I can’t believe how many “Kids” keep signing with the Hawks “stacked” prospect pool… No Guarantees- of “making it”… although Panarin has a sweet contract- to allow him to go back to KHL… but the Kid will not need it… he will fit perfectly w/ hawks…

    and this Reilly kid- impressed me as most “noticeable” the Half game I watched…
    Kid is GOOD!!!

  19. Vermett on paper and on ice was the best guy available at the time.
    Vermett’s success has ALL TO DO WITH LINES balance, who he is between.
    Vermett’s slow start had everything to do with bad chemistry and expectations!
    Vermett also played with Shane Doan with Arizona as we all know Shane is a tuff guy, he goes after the puck, knocks the shit out of you and delivers the puck to Vermett on a platter! No Hawks do that so Vermett had to go get the puck himself, NOT HIS GAME, but now he is making that adjustment! He is working well in the corners and finishing.
    Adding TnT on the line also creates more space for him and gives TnT room too!
    Sharp has done an incredible workman like job of chasing hard on dump in’s and pure pursuit of the puck and skating hard, mvp!
    Vermett is now in very good position on the ice, near the net, and looking for rebounds and also nows draws traffic for Sharp to score much easier.

    Hockey is complex, when you think a guy aint doin nothin we’re wrong! Vermett has to have a body on him always if not two, so TnT job is easier and Sharp is getting some clean looks!

    Don’t touch a thing!

    Look at how well sHAW is playing with Dezi next to him, all chemistry and balance!

    Glad to see Vermett adjust and get a little more physical too, in the end he will score a goal or two hawks fans will talk about for years, cup finals coming up?

  20. Any good GM is going game to game and season to season and looking to finish with the PRIZE . . . da cup! At the close of the season like the BLUES they adjust sometimes
    over haul sometimes tweak but if ya go 3 or 4 years and out even with talent again the BLUES it’s time to look at chemistry, talent, heart and skill.

    Regular season is borderline meaningless, building a playoff team is not easy.

    So any guessing on gM and who’s worth what or when is insane . . .

    Vermette was a good pick up, Hawks are playing and investing in the NOW that is how they (GM) play it, pretty simple! So developing new guys takes time and as I say the Hawks are so finely tuned for playoffs longevity, one player a BICK or a SHARP or Seabrook go away then we’re in big trouble, they are that finely tuned, and even if SHAW leaves that 4th line is not as effective. A Collective Effort thats hockey!

    go hawks

  21. Vermett and TnT should be on that second power play? Time to wake up!
    Nothing to loose and Vermett at least wins the dot, get the biscuit cleanly!

  22. Ace,

    That’s not how the conditions work on the 2016 pick owed to Philly. It has to do with whether Timmonen plays 50%+ of the playoff games and how far the Hawks advance.

    They’ll owe a minimum of a 4th round pick regardless. If they beat Minnesota this series, it bumps up to a 3rd round pick. If they get to the Final, it bumps up to a 2nd round pick. All that assuming Timmonen plays in at least 50% of the Blackhawks playoff games.

    They’re not going to sit Timmonen for Runblad anyway – Runblad shoots right and it doesn’t fit.

  23. Wall, the value of the draft is never diminished because of the timetable. With drafted players you’re stocking your organization for 4-5 years out – with college and Euro free agents the timetable is immediate or a year down the line.

    The trick is to keep the pipeline flowing – and lots of draft picks are necessary to keep that happening.

  24. I agree completely with Negzz’s comment about the trade, whether we win the cup or not, it was absolutely the right move by Bowman at the deadline.

    Wall makes a great point about the new wave of College FA’s and how they are impacting the draft. The days of the traditional hockey draft (selecting 17 yr. olds and hoping they pan out years later) is over. What we are seeing in Chicago is Bowman creating a development program that takes into account the needs of the Blackhawks NOW and up to 5 years from now! That is key. Trading Clendening for Forsling was a perfect example. A very similar player, but it simply bought that type of Defenceman a few more years of time for the Blackhawks as Bowman and Q felt it wasn’t needed now. Some players in the college programs have been advanced to the pro level ahead of schedule (see Hino) while others will be allowed to take time and develop (i.e. Schmaltz) because with the addition of TT, skill isn’t what this team needs more of now.

    For the past 2 years the Hawks have been in transition between and pure speed and skill team, to a more physical, two-way team with a greater ability to be physical. Starting next season we will see the transition more fully with Johns and likely Paliotta making the Hawks. This will make the Hawks back end, much more defensive minded and physical giving our goalies far greater vision and fewer point blank rebounds (which has been a problem for the Hawks). With our forwards the Hawks are going to keep Sharp and with TT coming into his own there are few positions available. But if the Hawks decide to move Bickell and not resign Desi, they are now in a position to replace him with a least 2 or 3 very good options from within the organization AND keep an Antoine Vermette for another season or two and stay dominating down the middle of the ice. Richards will be gone, but TT or Vermette slide in and Danault becomes another strong Hawk Centre with Shawsy ready as well.

    Scott Darling wasn’t drafted and developed by the Hawks. He was signed as an AHL FA who made this team against all odds. TVR didn’t play a single regular season game in Rockford before starting as a rookie for the Hawks! Baun walked into the lineup from College and looked the part of a professional right away. Mark McNeil has spent almost 3 years in Rockford and is no sure thing to have a roster spot on the Hawks next season, and he and Danault were our #1 draft choices. If McNeil makes the Hawks next season will he be more valuable than say Scott Darling, Kyle Baun, Paliotta and TVR? I doubt it.

    Trading a #1 pick (near the end of the first round) isn’t the end of the world at all. At this point who is the better prospect for the Hawks, Hino or Schmaltz? We simply don’t know. During the Bowman era of controlling the draft (something he has done very well) outside of TT, the only other picks that have had a significant impact have been lower round picks that featured more gritty, mature kids. Professional sports is all about winning right now (just ask the Hawks about last season when they stood pat) and trading for Vermette, Desi and another DMan were the right moves, so who cares what we gave up to get them?!?! We have lots left over to fill in the dots now and 5 years from now!

  25. I said so when it happened, and will say it again. Vermette was a great add despite losing a good potential d man in Dahlbeck. Hawks have been weak up the middle and that made them solid. 80 is trending north and is starting to find his groove. I also agree with win now attitude, especially when a player like Vermette comes available at the deadline. Look how close they got last year with no changes? One goal away from another Cup. It was that close! While it is hindsight now, if Hawks could have added Vermette at deadline last year, I think Hawks would have beat Kings/Rangers and brought home the Cup. The Kane injury of course cleared the cap space this year, but last year the Hawks lineup was just about there. The lines Q has been running are good right now and look solid. The Wild look challenged to match up although maybe that changes for Yeo when he gets last change calls as home team tonight.

    Stewart won’t dress tonight for Wild with upper body injury. One torpedo less in their arsenal, and I do think they bring the body HARD tonight. They have no choice but to try and beat the Hawks up. Wild must win tonight or they are as good as done.

    Gameday nerves starting and that’s good.

    Lets Go Hawks!

  26. Also, Dahlbeck – like Clendening – is a nice defensemen but clearly the organization feels they’re able to more than adequately fill the 3-4 open spots on the blue line from the list of Johns, Paliotta, Pokka, TvR and even Norell & Dahlstrom. Rockford is stocked and shouldn’t miss a beat next year even w/ the Hawks refilling their roster from within.

  27. I agree completely Tab, the Hogs won’t miss a beat. Pokka likely needs another full season, and in two years Dahlstrom should be ready for the pros as well. Lots and lots of defensive talent in the Hawks system.

  28. Richards might play for a lot less than ye ole experts think. IMO

    We will lose some good players next year but it’s so important to roll 4 solid lines
    and any glitch, weakness, learning on the ice drops the hawks into a list of about
    12 other good NHL teams. Add to that our goaltending issue or catch 22 or challenge and it’s a delicate balance. PLUS only Kane which worked out as “rest” has been hurt Hawks have been HEALTHY thank sweet baby jezzzuz.

    Wild lose Stewart we lose . . . we gain a lot. Luck is part of it.

  29. No one is questioning the wisdom of making a few trades to bring the needed pieces together for a deep Cup run. A few of us are questioning the pieces brought in at the trade deadline. We needed a good defenseman to bolster the top 6. But Timonen? You have got to be kidding. The guy is small plus he can’t skate. Why is it so difficult for people to admit the trade was terrible?

  30. Why would the Hawks want Brad Richards back at any price? He was a one year stop gap measure, that’s it. He is slow, non-physical and hot/cold at the dot. Not what the Hawks want moving forward. I have worked out 2 scenarios for next year, one with Bickell and Versteeg gone but Crawford back and one with Crawford gone. Both ways we fit under the cap by resigning Vermette and Saad while adding Johns, Paliotta, Baun and Danault from the Hogs. The Hawks stay strong down the middle and get younger/better on Defence. As good as the Hawks are right now (with Rozy and Timonen), they will be a better team next year, plus a lot younger, faster and more physical, which is the new NHL. Brad Richards is the old NHL.

  31. Hawks1961, you are absolutely right about Timonen. It was a gamble by Bowman that he didn’t need to take. There were a half dozen no-frills, solid DMen available at the deadline for the same “price” that would have been sure things, capable of skating 15-17 minutes a night. Vermette and Desi were outstanding additions (even at the cost of a first round pick and Ben Smith), but Timonen was a blunder that puts us at risk because the Hawks need at least 5 DMen to skate 17+ minutes a night to make this rotation with Keith work. That means we have no other alternative than to trust Rozy who couldn’t cut in last year’s playoffs. A big gamble by Bowman that has clearly failed thus far. In the triple OT game vs. NSH, Timonen barely skated 12 minutes!

  32. People pooh poohing on Timonen aren’t looking deep enough into why Bowman likely acquired him.

    Also, this talk of the new “Physical NHL” gives me brain cancer. If an NHL GM could put together Team Canada under the salary cap, I don’t think they would struggle through the season from a lack of “physical” players. The Blues are a very “physical” team that sucks in the playoffs because their lack of skill players. I remember in 2013 when the Hawks couldn’t win the Cup because of their lack of size and grittiness. Then Patrick Kane went all Showtime on his way to the Conn Smythe.

  33. And Mike the Mook, I’d credit the play of Shaw to him playing wing more than anything. He has always been better at wing because it frees him up to play his “style” of game. I love him on wing because it keeps me from having heart attacks when he’s in the defensive zone.

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