Coyotes place Antoine Vermette on waivers, buy out contract


The Arizona Coyotes placed veteran forward Antoine Vermette on unconditional waivers on Monday and have bought out the final year of his contract.

The 34-year-old Vermette appeared in 76 games for the Coyotes this past season. He scored 17 goals.

“In order to give our team more flexibility, we needed to make this difficult decision,” general manager John Chayka said in a statement released by the team.

“This move will provide an opportunity for some of our young, talented players to step up. Antoine is a class act and we thank him for all he did on and off the ice for the Arizona Coyotes organization. We wish him the best in the future.”

Vermette signed a two-year contract with the Coyotes in the summer of 2015 that was to pay him an average salary cap hit of $3.75 million per season. The team will still have a $1.25 million cap hit on the books this season and next season after the buy out. That will be a salary cap savings of $2.5 million (via General Fanager) this year.

It’s pretty clear at this point that the Coyotes are looking to go young with their roster and that by getting rid of Vermette it should open up a spot for top prospects like 2015 No. 3 overall pick Dylan Strome or Christian Dvorak.

It also adds to what is one of the most interesting salary cap structures of any team in the NHL this season.

The Coyotes will have more than $64 million in salary cap commitments, well above the salary floor, but will only be paying out about $56 million in actual salary. That is largely because they will have four players on their cap that will not be playing for them this season.

Along with Vermette’s buyout, the Coyotes are also on the hook for the remainder of Mike Ribiero’s buyout through the 2019-20 season and also have the remaining cap hits that belong to the retired Chris Pronger ($4.9 million) and Pavel Datsyuk ($7.5 million).

The Coyotes have just a little more than $33 million committed to the salary cap for the 2017-18 season, and that includes the buyouts for Vermette and Ribeiro.

Even though Vermette’s scoring numbers were still decent this past season, he has shown some signs of significantly slowing down. His possession numbers have plummeted in recent years while he averaged just a little more than 1.5 shots on goal per game this past season.

But because he is a veteran player that has been around for a while, topped the 15-goal mark, and is still great in the faceoff circle (better than 55 percent this past season) there is still probably a team out there that sees value in him.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

caufield surgery
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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

matty beniers
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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.