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NHL Live discusses Vermette, Stewart, Winnik

by Jon Lane

NHL analyst Craig Button joined NHL Live to evaluate forwards who could be on the trading block with the NHL Trade Deadline drawing closer.

Arizona Coyotes center Antoine Vermette remains an attractive candidate prior to the March 2 deadline. Vermette has 13 goals and 35 points in 58 games and is adept at winning faceoffs. The question with Vermette, scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, is whether a team would acquire him as a rental or look to sign him long-term.

"Certain teams that may feel that they cannot get into the free-agent market, or significantly into big deals at the draft, may be looking at Antoine Vermette," Button said. "But for me, his real value is coming to a team that's close up to the [NHL salary cap] and needs a really good boost of a player, an injection of that type that can really bolster their chances not only to get into the [Stanley Cup Playoffs] but once they're in the playoffs.

"I think a team would be more willing to pay maybe not a premium price but certainly a price that would help them not have to get up against the cap either this year or next year with a long-term contract."

NHL Live co-host E.J. Hradek said he likes Vermette as a rental. The New York Rangers would be a good fit, but Hradek questions whether they have what it will take to acquire Vermette in a trade.

"I don't know if I want to tie myself to Antoine Vermette to a long-term deal," Hradek said. "But if I'm a team like the Rangers, who have been looking for some help winning faceoffs … that would be a nice fit. The problem is there are going to be several suitors for Antoine Vermette. I doubt that [Rangers general manager] Glen Sather is looking to [trade] J.T. Miller for a guy who's a rental for the New York Rangers."

Buffalo Sabres forward Chris Stewart is another player who could be available.

Chris Stewart
Right Wing - BUF
GOALS: 9 | ASST: 13 | PTS: 22
SOG: 99 | +/-: -31
"He's had some flashes in his career … but does he do it on a night-to-night basis?" Hradek said. "The bottom line is, he goes to let's say to Boston, structured system, structured situation, playing with good players, that could be a fit for him. But time will tell if indeed the Bruins will want to pay the price to get a player like that."

Button said, "If you get Chris Stewart, you have to get him into a situation where he's asked to do less, not more. You look at the Boston Bruins, they're looking for a big-body winger like Chris Stewart. But I wouldn't be paying a big price for Chris Stewart because you don't know exactly what you're going to get.

"He's a pending free agent and [Sabres GM] Tim Murray may be holding out for a higher price. But when you look back last year to what the [Los Angeles Kings] did to acquire Marian Gaborik, there's no way I'm paying a premium for Chris Stewart because I do not know what type of production and consistency I'm going to get from him."

The Toronto Maple Leafs reportedly continue to field calls after trading defenseman Cody Franson and center Mike Santorelli to the Nashville Predator. Another rumored name on the table is forward Daniel Winnik, whose value is enhanced by an expiring contract, according to Button.

"Daniel Winnik, he's a smart player," Button said. "He could play in different situations, penalty killing. He gives you some forward depth. But the real attraction … if Daniel Winnik had two years left on his contract, we wouldn't even be talking about him. But the fact is he doesn't, and that's why he's become a very attractive player."

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