Arizona Coyotes Buyout Antoine Vermette as Columbus Blue Jackets Sign Sam Gagner

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The Arizona Coyotes bought out the contract of Antoine Vermette on Monday.

Vermette, 34, becomes an unrestricted free agent after the buyout and can sign with any other team in the National Hockey League. The forward had one year left on his two-year contract with the Coyotes. The salary cap hit on Vermette’s deal was 3,750,000 dollars.

This past season, he scored 17 goals and 21 assists in 76 games with Arizona. At the trade deadline during the 2014-2015, the Coyotes dealt Vermette to the Chicago Blackhawks. Last summer he returned to Arizona as free agent.

Coyotes general manager, John Chayka said, “In order to give our team more flexibility, we needed to make this difficult decision. This move will provide an opportunity for some of our young, talented 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.”

In 910 NHL games, he has scored 211 goals and 260 assists, with 546 penalty minutes. He won the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks following the 2014-2015 season.

In other news:

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The Columbus Blue Jackets announced that they signed Sam Gagner to a one year, 650,000-dollar contract. The 27-year-old unrestricted free agent put up eight goals and eight assists in 53 games with the Philadelphia Flyers this past season.

Gagner told the Blue Jackets website, “Getting a chance to play a key role was a big thing for me. I had the chance to speak with management and the coaching staff, and they think my best hockey is still in front of me, which I agree with. They felt there was a good opportunity for me to get some pretty prime offensive minutes, and that is something I was really looking for in my next team.”

He added, “It is a great city with great fans, so there were many different things that led to making this decision.”

The Coyotes dealt Gagner to the Flyers on June 27, 2015, along with a conditional draft choice for Niklas Grossman and the rights to 2015 Hall of Fame Inductee, Chris Pronger.

Blue Jackets general manager, Jarmo Kekalainen said, “We do not have a right handed shot at center. We do not have a right handed shot who can play on the half wall [on the power play], other than Oliver Bjorkstrand, and he is just coming into the league. Sam really has a tremendous hockey sense, really good play making ability. He can think the game quickly, make plays, create offense.”

The Edmonton Oilers drafted Gagner with the sixth overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. In his rookie season (2007-2008), with the Oilers he scored 49 points, the highest totals he has put up in his career.

On February 2, 2012, Gagner became the first player to score eight points in a game (four goals and four assists), since Mario Lemieux did it for the Pittsburgh Penguins on December 31, 1988.

In 615 games between the Flyers, Coyotes and Oilers, he has put up 124 goals and 228 assists.

Gagner told the team’s website, “From a personal standpoint, I am as hungry as I have ever been. I am motivated to have success, where everyone feels like last year was an underachieving year, I think it is going to bode well. We are a determined group and we are looking forward to prove a lot of people wrong. It is an exciting challenge for all of us.”