In terms of well-rounded seasons, few are having better ones than Antoine Vermette.
The Phoenix center, who leads the team with 21 goals this year, is putting together the kind of campaign that pushed ‘Yotes GM Don Maloney to offer the highest of praise.
“I don’t think anyone would argue if I said Antoine has been our most valuable player this season,” Maloney told Fox Sports Arizona. “He does everything for us and he does it all well.”
Consider the following:
— Vermette leads the team in faceoff winning percentage (55.9), ninth-best in the NHL.
— Vermette leads the team in shorthanded goals (three), tied for second in the NHL.
— Vermette leads all Coyotes forwards in PK time, is fifth in PP time and is one of only two forwards to average at least 19 minutes per game.
The 31-year-old is also enjoying an unprecedented offensive streak. Vermette scored an unassisted goal on Tuesday against Dallas to extend his point streak to eight games, marking a career-high for while matching Shane Doan for the longest Phoenix point streak this season.
What’s more, it’s also the NHL’s longest active point streak.
Vermette has been scoring in bunches lately — a hat trick in Vancouver two Sundays ago, two points in a 3-0 win over L.A. last week — and is on pace for 31 goals, which would be a career best and the most he’s scored since netting 27 for Columbus during the 2009-10 campaign.
But, as head coach Dave Tippett pointed out, Vermette’s success isn’t just about putting pucks in the net.
“Even when he wasn’t scoring, his work ethic remained the same,” Tippett said, per NHL.com. “He’s been very opportunistic and two hat tricks [Vermette also had one in December against Ottawa] will move your numbers up fast. Plus he’s on a line with (Lauri Korpikoski and Mikkel Boedker) that really likes playing with each other and they’ve been a real effective group.”
It’ll be interesting how Vermette’s future plays out. He’s in the penultimate season of a five-year, $18.75 million deal that expires at the end of the 2014-15 campaign and, assuming he continues to produce, would likely garner a raise on his $3.75 million annual cap hit with his next contract.