Is Antoine Vermette Worth The Price The Chicago Blackhawks Paid?

By Skylar Peters

Usually around NHL Trade Deadline day, Stan Bowman sits in seclusion in his office, sipping on iced tea, shuffling a deck of cards. No phones ring, he has sent his receptionist home for the day. To put it in simpler terms, he is not a busy man.

Well, 2014-15 hasn’t been the norm for the Blackhawks’ general manager, especially the last 48 hours.

Less than a day after dealing a pair of draft picks to Philadelphia for veteran defenseman Kimmo Timonen, Bowman made another big splash, acquiring one of the most sought-after forwards ahead of Monday’s trade deadline; Antoine Vermette.

It certainly cost the Blackhawks, though; they sent AHL defenseman Klas Dahlbeck to the desert, along with their first-round pick at this summer’s NHL Entry Draft.

It is no secret that Vermette isn’t expected to stick around Chicago past this year’s playoffs. With the dollars the team will be dishing out to Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, among others next season, the salary Vermette will command once his contract expires on July 1st will be far too much for the Blackhawks to handle.

Vermette was brought to Chicago for a specific purpose; pick up the slack that was dropped when the NHL’s leading scorer, Patrick Kane, hit the boards on Tuesday night, breaking his collarbone and putting him out of the lineup for 3 months.

Kane could return if the Blackhawks were to make it to the Western Conference Final, and with these past two trades, it is clear that Bowman and Blackhawks’ management is hell-bent on getting there.

Vermette has put up 13 goals and 22 assists for 35 points this season, on a Phoenix team that has been struggling mightily all year. Put him with one of the best forward groups in the world on paper, and watch his production skyrocket, right?

If Patrick Sharp and Andrew Shaw‘s seasons are any indication, it won’t be just that easy.

For the Blackhawks to come away with the ‘win’ in this trade, they need immediate and constant production from the 32-year old, and like Kane did before him, he will have to elevate the play of those around him. He will likely become a staple on one of the Blackhawks’ penalty-kill units, and fans will certainly see head coach Joel Quenneville give Vermette a shot on the power-play as well.

Vermette should remind Blackhawks fans of a player they already watch on a nightly basis – Marian Hossa. The size, skill, and puck protection of Vermette’s game mirrors that of #81, and the two-way forwards will be a great one-two punch in the top-six.

On the other hand, Klas Dahlbeck was a shining prospect for the Blackhawks. Once buried among other NHL-ready defensemen such as Adam Clendening and Stephen Johns, Dahlbeck will have the opportunity to hunt down a full-time NHL job on the Coyotes, who need all the help they can get to turn around their league-worst -65 goal differential.

Throw in a first-round pick, and though it will likely be later in the round, the Coyotes get an immediate boost to their prospect pool this summer, with an outside shot of having that individual make the NHL team next season.

The Coyotes truly did get something for nothing, as Vermette was set to walk out of Phoenix in July via free agency anyway. The Coyotes did not tip their hand with a lesser offer from the Boston Bruins, it is reported, and waited for the Blackhawks to offer the big one.

The Blackhawks will get immediate benefit, but the jury is out on this one until Vermette suits up for Chicago, and Dahlbeck does the same either in the AHL or in Arizona. On the bright side, however, Blackhawks’ fans won’t be holding their breath for another big trade come Monday; it seems Bowman will be doing his usual Deadline Day routine, this time, with a big move already behind him.

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