This is Antoine Vermette.
Vermette is a 34 year old centre who was just bought out by the Arizona Coyotes, which makes him an unrestricted free agent. Could he be a fit for the Oilers bottom 6?
To assess the player, let’s look at the results in four different areas of his game:
- Boxcars – how much did he score?
- Shot metrics WOWY – who did he play with, and how did he do?
- Shot metrics vs competition – who (if anyone) did he win the shot battle against?
- Faceoffs and zone starts – how did his coach use him, and how well did he do? Did his usage potentially impact his results?
Vermette scored 17 goals with 21 assists in 76 games, playing between 16 and 17 minutes a night. His scoring rate of 0.5 pts/g is right in line with his career average of 0.512, which is damn impressive for a 34 year old! Lowetide has a more in depth look at Vermette’s scoring here.
Looking solely at scoring rate, Vermette would have been eighth among regulars on the Oilers – certainly on the surface a decent pickup for the bottom 6.
But let’s look below the surface.
*Boxcar data from hockey-reference.com
Vermette’s most common forward partner was Mikkel Boedker. Their numbers together (45.9%) are roughly in line with their numbers apart, with an edge to Vermette (46.9% vs 45.6%).
They were not good together – but they were not good apart either.
Vermette’s most common defensive partner was Oliver Ekman-Larsson. As OEL is the unquestioned #1D on the Coyotes, this surprised me somewhat.
What didn’t surprise me were the results. Together, they were a poor 46.5%. Vermette away from OEL remained a poor 46.2%, while OEL away from Vermette was a solid (especially for Arizona) 51.3%.
Vermette was a major anchor on OEL.
More broadly, if you look at this WOWY visualization (from hockeyviz.com):
I’d conclude that (shots wise) Vermette for the most part is at best neutral and more commonly a negative influence on his teammates.
*WOWY data from stats.hockeyanalysis.com
Shot Metrics and Competition
For this analysis, I’m using the WoodMoney metrics (read the background on this metric here). Here’s the WoodMoney visualization for Vermette, the “Vizmette” as it were:
(click to embiggen)
Bear in mind that at the moment, using WoodMoney for analyzing forwards should be done cautiously, as we’re only looking at F vs F matchups, while F vs D matchups (for forwards) likely matter for qualcomp at least as much, and almost certainly more.
That said, head to head forward matchups do have relevance, so there is valuable information buried in this group of charts. Here’s my read:
1 – Vermette’s TOI vs the competition bands is relatively balanced, suggesting a second/third line(ish) utility forward used up and down the lineup. His TOI and zone starts (see next section) would appear to confirm this, as he’s pretty much 50% in both total and true zone starts.
2 – By raw shots (Corsi, CF on the chart), he gets caved by all comp except the lowest tier labeled ‘Gritensity’ where he is slightly above breakeven.
3 – By Dangerous Fenwick (DFF, my own danger weighted shot metric statistic, details here) he gets caved by all comp except the lowest Gritensity tier, where he almost breaks even.
4 – His “rels” – that is to say, how he does relative to his teammates against the various competition bands, as shown on the last chart in the diagram – are below zero for all comp except vs Gritensity.
So … he’s playing on a pretty poor possession team (surprise), but at least you can say that possession wise he is still above average as a fourth liner on that team. He’s not being used as a fourth liner, but if he was, he’d be OK at it.
Faceoffs and Zone Starts*
Vermette’s faceoff % was 55.8%, a stellar number (and in line with his career). This is clearly a strength and probably helped him generate the numbers he did.
His offensive zone start is ~50%, slightly below his true zone start. So he was used very neutrally by the coach, confirming his role as something of a utility player.
*Faceoff percentage from hockey-reference.com. Zone start and true zone start data scraped from NHL play by play data.
Vermette’s poor possession results, especially against higher competition, clash with his decent boxcars.
Putting these together suggests that the way he scored is that he did so by giving up more than he got. You can see that in the wide gap between his ‘for’ and ‘against’ lines in both the raw metrics (CF) and especially the danger weighted metrics (DFF).
I suspect that his good boxcars are at least partially attributable to his faceoff prowess, which remains stellar.
Now this analysis is purely numerical and results-based. Perhaps a detailed video-based scouting project would shed light that might show he’s better (or worse) than what the numbers imply.
All in all?
I’d say stay away, regardless of price. He’s probably going to score more than Letestu (at least next year), but in terms of overall play, he gives up a lot more than he gets, even though he spends a fair bit of time with OEL.
In case you haven’t noticed, the Oilers do not have an OEL.
So Vermette is not likely (much of) an upgrade on Letestu. And at age 34, he’s about to hit the steep part of a downhill slope. These results suggest that his buyout is not that surprising.
The Oilers need an upgrade in the bottom 6.
Vermette isn’t the droid we’re looking for.