The Arizona Coyotes parted ways with veteran center Antoine Vermette to give themselves some more flexibility for next season.
The Coyotes bought out the final year of Vermette's contract on Monday, making the 34-year-old a free agent. Instead of counting $3.75 million against the salary cap, Vermette will count $1.25 million each of the next two seasons as Arizona looks to get younger.
''In order to give our team more flexibility, we needed to make this difficult decision,'' general manager John Chayka said. ''This move will provide an opportunity for some of our young, talented players 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.''
Vermette proved to be a valuable asset for the Coyotes at the 2015 trade deadline when they sent him to the Chicago Blackhawks for a first-round pick and defensive prospect Klas Dahlbeck. Vermette won the Stanley Cup with Chicago, and Arizona selected Nick Merkley to bulk up their prospect depth.
The Coyotes re-signed Vermette in the summer of 2015 to a $7.5 million, two-year deal. He had 17 goals and 21 assists in 76 games last season and will likely draw interest around the NHL at a reduced salary.
In 910 NHL games with Ottawa, Columbus, Chicago and Arizona, Vermette has 211 goals and 260 assists.