Blackhawks' Antoine Vermette to be healthy scratch for Game 1

Antoine Vermette is a healthy scratch for Game 1 against the Predators. (USATSI)
Antoine Vermette is a healthy scratch for Game 1 against the Predators. (USATSI)

After expending a 2015 first-round pick and solid defense prospect to acquire his services, the Chicago Blackhawks will make forward Antoine Vermette a healthy scratch for Game 1 against the Nashville Predators. Head coach Joel Quenneville informed reporters that Vermette’s scratch is performance based.

Since Vermette was acquired just ahead of the NHL trade deadline, the center has had a hard time fitting into Quenneville’s plans. After putting up 35 points in 63 games with the Arizona Coyotes prior to the trade, Vermette has just three assists in 19 games with the Blackhawks.

He has at times been moved from his natural position of center over to the wing and his ice time hovered between about 12 minutes and 16 minutes a night after averaging nearly 18 per game for the 2014-15 season.

Considering the great cost at which Vermette was acquired, seeing him as a healthy scratch is a tad surprising, but his performance hasn’t been at a level that even comes close to equaling the value of what Chicago gave up to get him. As a result, it appears this will be the first game he misses since 2009-10, playoffs or otherwise.

Vermette was one of the most sought after trade targets as the deadline neared. When the Coyotes began selling off parts, it was believed that multiple teams were in hot pursuit of Vermette before the Blackhawks swooped in and nabbed him. Chicago had extra cap space after Patrick Kane went on long-term injured reserve due to a fractured clavicle, which gave them the flexibility to bring in Vermette.

Now that Kane is back and the salary cap is a non-factor, Vermette becomes the odd man out instead of fortifying depth as he was expected to do. Now that Vermette is out, it's anyone's guess as to when he'll return to the lineup, if he'll return at all. That could obviously depend on the health of the roster and the performance of those in the lineup.

Perhaps this scratch is being used to motivate Vermette, as there's no argument that he needs to be much, much better.

CBS Sports Writer

Chris Peters has been a hockey writer for CBS Sports since 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for numerous outlets and edited the United States of Hockey blog, covering the sport at all levels. Peters also... Full Bio

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