The playoff push is underway in Phoenix. Tied for first with the San Jose Sharks, the Coyotes have amassed 30 wins and 69 points with just 8 days left in February (leap year).
Antoine Vermette is heading to Phoenix by way of Columbus.
The two-way center had been doing work on Columbus’ second and third lines (mostly at left wing). Antoine was third on the team in points (27), including 8 goals and 19 assists.
With three more years under contract following the 2011-12 season, Vermette was a prime candidate for the Coyotes franchise moving forward.
Twenty-nine year old Vermette will look to be more productive on this Coyotes team (Phoenix: 18th GPG, Columbus: 27th GPG). Surely he will take ice time from current 3rd line center Daymond Langkow (age 36), and maybe 2nd line center Boyd Gordon, depending on how keen management is on Antoine’s abilities.
Between a rock and a hard place, it quite frankly might not matter what Phoenix does this year. With cities like Seattle salivating for a new sports franchise, and fledging fan support in the desert, the writing is on the wall.
None the less, Phoenix GM Don Maloney is capitalizing on the team’s late season position to engineer a playoff team in time for Monday’s Trade Deadline.
Columbus will receive a 2012 second round draft pick, a conditional 5th round draft pick (which becomes a 4th round should the Coyotes make the playoffs), and a minor league goalie Curtis McElhinney.
Ironically, the Winnipeg Jets left for Phoenix following a playoff season. Should the Yotes make an entry into this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, it would not be unprecedented to see them take off.