Boston Bruins: Antoine Vermette Not Worth Signing

Mar 17, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Coyotes center Antoine Vermette (50) looks to pass during the second period against the San Jose Sharks at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 17, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Coyotes center Antoine Vermette (50) looks to pass during the second period against the San Jose Sharks at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports /

Boston Bruins: Antoine Vermette Not Worth Signing at This Point in the Rebuild

The Boston Bruins have an abundance of centers. To say that adding another center at this point would be a mistake would be an understatement, but that won’t stop speculation of Antoine Vermette potentially joining the Bruins.

At the NHL level, the Bruins currently have natural centers Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, David Backes, Ryan Spooner, Riley Nash, Noel Acciari, as well as others in the system ready to make the jump. While they have their center positions seemingly filled to the brim, head coach Claude Julien loves veteran forwards, and that could play a factor in general manager Don Sweeney‘s mind.

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What can Vermette bring to a team? Well the first thing that any team will notice when signing Vermette will be his veteran leadership that he brings to a locker room. At 34-years-old, Vermette has played his fair share of hockey, although questions of his effectiveness are now arising. While he was able to score 17 goals and 38 points in 76 games last season, he also recorded a minus-14 rating and played in 16:38 of ice time per game.

Based on Vermette’s HERO chart courtesy of Own The Puck, it’s clear to see that his role as a “Complete 2nd line Center” may be a bit of a reach at this point in his career. His goals/60, FirstA/60, PrimaryP/60, Relative CA/60, and Relative CD/60 all have him ranked as a fourth line player, with his relative CF/60 having him ranked as a bottom-six forward.

It wasn’t that long ago that the Chicago Blackhawks traded a first round pick to acquire Vermette for their eventual Stanley Cup-winning playoff run, making this move by John Chayka and the Coyotes a curious one. While Vermette may not be a player worth using in a top-six role anymore, there’s no denying his ability to help younger players develop.

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The issue with the Bruins bringing Vermette in with the purpose of teaching younger players the ins-and-outs of the professional hockey lifestyle is the fact that Claude Julien will likely use him way too much. It’s been done time and time again in Boston under Claude Julien, where young players find themselves relegated to the bench, or the press box, while veterans find themselves in crunch time, often trailing in a game and looking to score.

While Vermette has a friend in Bergeron already playing for the Bruins, that shouldn’t be a factor in his future with the Bruins. The Maxime Talbot experiment ended last season after the veteran forward saw much of his 2015-16 season come in the AHL with the Providence Bruins. Vermette, like Talbot, would likely come at a bargain rate, but that doesn’t mean he’s a fit for the Bruins lineup.

If the Bruins are serious about rebuilding their team on the fly and becoming title contenders again, then they need to learn to trust their young players. In Boston, more-so than most cities, it’s hard to rebuild a team as fans have very high expectations for their sports teams. With that in mind, however, patience is a must for the team to reach Stanley Cup contention again.

While patience includes fans being patient with the team as they navigate this rebuild, it also includes Claude Julien and the Bruins management team. Young players will make mistakes, that’s a given for almost every single young player who steps into a the professional level in any sport.

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While they will make mistakes, it’s important to let them learn, and not banish them to the press box after every single incident. Players cannot learn without playing, and they cannot learn if they are afraid to play. Signing Vermette would take playing time away from deserving young players, and that would hinder the Bruins in the long-run more than it would potentially help them in the short-run.