The Arizona Coyotes have placed 34-year-old center Antoine Vermette on waivers with the intention of buying out his contract, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
While the main buyout window for NHL teams has closed, each team that has salary arbitration with a player gets a brief window after the close of their final arbitration (whether or not that negotiation even goes to arbitration) to buy players out. This move falls inside that window for the Coyotes.
Vermette has one year remaining on a contract that was set to pay him $3.75 million with an identical cap hit. It’s not a huge figure, but he’s actually the second highest-paid forward on the team behind Shane Doan (and of course the contract of Pavel Datsyuk).
The Coyotes have $6.34 million in cap space remaining, according to Cap Friendly, so it doesn’t appear to be a true cap issue — unless there are other movements to come. It may just be another move by the organization to lower costs they view as unnecessary in a year where they are still building the contender they believe they will become.
Should the team buy him out, they will pay him $1.25 million this year and next instead of $3.75 million this year. The buyout will cost the team $1.25 million against the cap this year and next.
Vermette scored 17 goals and 38 points through 76 games last season. That should make him attractive enough to find a new team quite easily. For the Coyotes, they have a number of young centers that they want to take the mantle. Are all better than Vermette? No, but if you’re hoping to clear something off the books, he’s the second highest paid forward and, besides Oliver Ekman-Larsson, the biggest contract on the team that wasn’t signed this summer.
With Vermette bought out, #Coyotes salary cap will tentatively sit at $64,152,125, however team will paying LESS than $51M in actual salary
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) August 1, 2016
Additionally, the Coyotes have proven to be more than willing to pile on some dead cap space during this rebuild. It’s not just Datsyuk’s contract, they are carrying Chris Pronger’s contract and they’re still paying for the Mike Ribeiro buyout. All together, inclusive of a Vermette buyout, that’s just a shade over $15 million against the cap.
The Coyotes have announced that they will in fact buy out Vermette’s contract. “In order to give our team more flexibility, we needed to make this difficult decision,” said general manager John Chayka. “This move will provide an opportunity for some of our young, talented players to step up. Antoine is a class act and we thank him for all he did on and off the ice for the Arizona Coyotes organization. We wish him the best in the future.”
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.