Originally written on Tonight's Healthy Scratches  |  Last updated 2/22/12

SAN JOSE, CA - OCTOBER 08: Antoine Vermette #50 of the Columbus Blue Jackets in action during their game against the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion on October 8, 2009 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

It appears as if the Phoenix Coyotes just announced themselves as buyers for the upcoming trade deadline. Earlier today, the Coyotes announced they have acquired veteran center Antoine Vermette, from the Blue Jackets in exchange for goaltender Curtis McElhinney, a second-round draft pick and a conditional fifth-round pick.

It would have been ludicrous to consider the Coyotes as buyers just a few short weeks ago, however, an 8-1-1 record over the course of the past month could change things now, can't it?

When the Coyotes started their torrid pace at the end of January, they sat in 12th place in the Western Conference, and fourth in the Pacific Division--eight points behind division-leading San Jose.

Fast forward three weeks, and the Coyotes are tied with the Sharks for first place, and seventh in the West.

The 29-year-old Vermette, although experiencing a down year as far as offensive production is concerned, should help the Coyotes' offense down the middle. Not only is he a modest offensive option, he should also fit seamlessly into coach Dave Tippett's defensive approach to the game.

Through 60 games with Columbus this season, Vermette has only mustered up eight goals and 19 assists. To be fair, it's not his fault as it's pretty hard to be offensively productive when you're playing 90-percent of the game in your own zone.

Unlike most players shipped to new cities around this time of year, Vermette is not an expiring contract.

Vermette is in the second season of a five-year, $18.75 million contract. His deal came on the heals of a career year, when he netted 27 goals and 38 assists for the Blue Jackets in 2010.

The second-round pick that the Coyotes sent to Columbus is the pick acquired in the Kyle Turris deal, while the fifth-rounder will turn into a fourth-round pick, should the Coyotes advance past the first round of the playoffs.

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