Another summer is upon us, which means another round of player reviews. AnaheimDucks.com is featuring a different Ducks player throughout the summer (in numerical order), highlighting key stats while also keeping an eye on next season. We continue with Ducks center Antoine Vermette.
When the Ducks needed a faceoff win last season, head coach Randy Carlyle would send Vermette over the boards.
It was a near flawless strategy.
Anaheim knew it acquired one of the league's best faceoff artists when they signed Vermette to a two-year contract last July. Vermette entered the season ranked second among all active NHL players in faceoff win percentage at 55.8% (min. 13,000 FO) and fifth in faceoff wins (7,595). He posted a faceoff win percentage of 50% or higher in 11 consecutive seasons and ranked in the NHL's top-10 for faceoff leaders in each of the previous four seasons.
Amazingly, he improved on those numbers.
Vermette ended the regular season second in the league in even-strength faceoff win percentage, tallying a career-high 62.3% in the dot. The percentage was slightly higher on the power play (62.9%), where Carlyle would use Vermette to establish possession before switching him for an improved offensive weapon. His skill helped shorthanded as well, where Vermette finished the year third in faceoff win percentage.
He did all this despite missing 10 games due to suspension. Vermette was ejected from the team's 1-0 win against the Minnesota Wild in February. In the third period, he slashed linesman Shandor Alphonso on the back of his leg after he dropped the puck and Vermette came out of his stance.
It was an uncharacteristic outburst for the mild-manned Vermette, who lost an appeal and offered a public apology soon afterward.
He finished the regular season with 28 points (9g/19a) in 72 games. Vermette played hero against the Buffalo Sabres, scoring the eventual game-winning goal in the Ducks 5-2 win on home ice.
Video: ANA@BUF: Vermette tips home a power-play goal
His faceoff prowess continued in the playoffs, as Vermette again finished second in even-strength faceoff win percentage (60.8%). The numbers remained high on both the power play and penalty kill as well. The only thing lacking was his offense, where he posted just three points in those 17 games.
It's an advantage to start with the puck, and Vermette's performance continued Anaheim's insistence on excellence in the faceoff circle. Adding him to a roster already including an excellent faceoff artist in Ryan Kesler - and a vastly improved Ryan Getzlaf - provided the Ducks more of an opportunity to control the puck. While he's capable of a greater offensive output, Vermette anchors the bottom six and continues to play an important role on special teams.