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Vermette happy to stay with Senators

New two-year agreement reached just minutes before arbitration hearing

Thursday, 07.31.2008 / 12:38 PM ET / Features
By Rob Brodie  - OttawaSenators.com
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Vermette happy to stay with Senators
Antoine Vermette is right where he wants to be.

With two more seasons – at least – to blossom into the kind of offensive threat he dearly wants to become in an Ottawa Senators uniform.

Senators forward Antoine Vermette avoided arbitration by signing a two-year contract with the team this morning (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
Senators general manager Bryan Murray announced this morning that he had reached an agreement on a new contract that will keep the 25-year-old native of St-Agapit, Que., in Ottawa colours through the 2009-10 season. The deal was struck minutes before both sides were to present their respective cases before an arbitrator in Toronto.

“I’m happy,” Vermette told reporters on a conference call. “Ottawa is where I want to play hockey and I love the city. I love the fan base and the support we have there.

“We have a good team and I have some good friends on the team as well. All that being said, I have a chance there to see what my role (will be) in the next two years and go from there.”

Vermette, who notched career highs in goals (25) and assists (29) during his fourth full season with the Senators, has spoken often about his desire to become a bigger part of the Senators’ attack.

“Absolutely. I never hide it,” Vermette told ottawasenators.com last season when asked about his desire to contribute more offensively. “You always want to maximize your potential or your capacity and you want to do the best that you can.

“I used to have more of an offensive role when I was younger. I didn’t hide it. I liked it. But you want to fit into the right place and be (part of) a successful group.”

While Vermette has been one of the Senators’ top penalty killers in recent seasons, Murray believes he can push for 30-goal seasons in the near future.

“I think he has the potential to be more than he has been (as a goal scorer) to this point in time,” said Murray. “He believes that sincerely and I think that was a stumbling block (in negotiations) as much as anything in doing a longer-term deal.

“We see a certain player at the moment. We have to recognize that he projects a little higher than that, which I’m very happy to hear. I believe that within three years, you’ll see a little better offensive player than he is (right now).”

Both sides were happy to avoid an arbitration hearing, though it took some doing. Talks went beyond 1 a.m. last night and the deal wasn’t completed until just before the scheduled 10 a.m. hearing today.

“If you have the option, probably both sides don’t want to go there (to arbitration),” said Vermette. “You want to keep the door open for eventually (signing) another deal and if you do that, the relationship is pretty good.”

Said Murray: “It seemed to take a long time to get it done, over the last couple of weeks in particular, but to get it done before the arbitration is real good.”

The hearing would have been based on a two-year contract, Murray added.

“We had actually talked about a longer term,” he said. “We had talked about a variety of scenarios. I think we were working on a two-year deal all along. It all comes down to the money involved (after that).”

Only one Senators players now remains unsigned – defenceman Andrej Meszaros, a restricted free agent who doesn’t yet have arbitration rights.

“There’s nothing new on him,” said Murray. “At this point, we’ve talked for a length of time…. We’re not close to really doing anything different that we’ve been doing for the last month or so.”

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

ATLANTIC DIVISION
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
2 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
3 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
4 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
5 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
6 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
7 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
8 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Karlsson 82 21 45 7 66
M. Stone 80 26 38 21 64
K. Turris 82 24 40 5 64
B. Ryan 78 18 36 5 54
M. Hoffman 79 27 21 16 48
M. Zibanejad 80 20 26 0 46
C. MacArthur 62 16 20 -6 36
M. Michalek 66 13 21 3 34
D. Legwand 80 9 18 1 27
A. Chiasson 76 11 15 -5 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Anderson 14 13 8 .923 2.49
R. Lehner 9 12 3 .905 3.02