Players to Watch Part 2: Antoine Vermette
Part Two: Antoine Vermette
Much like Jake, Antoine was one of the shining stars on the Jackets roster. A staple of the top line sandwiched between Juice and the man himself, Rick Nash, Vermette was the teams second leading scorer in 2009-10.
Aside from being a really really nice guy in person (if you ever run into him, don't be shy) he's always a threat to be involved in the scoring. Another impressive aspect of his game is his toughness. Whats that you say? Toughness? While he's not throwing haymakers a la Dorsett and Boll, he's rarely not playing. He's played 2 full NHL seasons, plus an 81-game campaign, and two others of 77 or more.
He's very dedicated to his game and he plays with great confidence. This speedy center lead the team in faceoff wins last year, players traded, injured, moved to Russia, not withstanding. Remember when he was acquired that magical season? He was battling our-then-own Manny Malhotra for tops in the league in faceoff win percentage. Antoine, in my opinion, is quietly becoming a top player in our organization.
Where he came from:
Vermette started his career in the Q, which is famous for glorified statistics. His first year was uninspiring to say the least - it was his second where things began to take off. Posting 71 points in 71 games is the kind of consistency anyone would like out of a player.
Drafted in 2000, Vermette put up the highest numbers of his pro career (57-62-119) for Victoriaville. The Senators were liking what they had picked 55th overall that year. Whatever the reason, his start in Ottawa didn't turn out as planned.
He moved his way around the Senators lineup, breaking 50 points for the first time in his career in 2007-08. Little did any of us know all it took was 62 more games before he landed in Columbus.
Where he is:
He's not the number one center the franchise needed, but thats not to say he's not holding his own. He made a very good impression on the fans by scoring in 7 of his first 17 games in Union Blue. Coming off a down season of a combined 41 points, he continued to improve last year by setting career highs in goals, assits, and points. I see another big step this upcoming year.
Where he's going:
As I said, I see another big improvement. With the new coaching staff wanting to play an offensive game, everyone will benefit, especially Vermette. Playing along side Nasher and Juice and building chemistry is his key for 2010-11. Still a couple steps away from being spoken about among the elite guys like Sedin, Crosby (ugh, that was painful), Backstrom, Richards etc., Vermette will put up another record setting scoring line.
2010-11 Season Predictions:
GP G A PTS +/- 82 29 45 74 23
Top 8 in faceoff win percentage
Said win percentage will equal or top 58%
Has 900 faceoff wins
"Out there" Prediction:
Finalist for the Selke Trophy
There you have it, now let us hear it in the comments!