Free agent right winger Radim Vrbata has signed a one-year, $1 million contract with the Arizona Coyotes according to ESPN’s Craig Custance. Vrbata spent the last two years with the Vancouver Canucks.
Not signed yet but Coyotes & Radim Vrbata have agreed to a one-year deal with a base salary of $1 million. Deal will have bonuses.
— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) August 15, 2016
Radim Vrbata Signs
Vrbata, 35, had a disappointing 2015-16 campaign, putting up a mere 13 goals and 14 assists for 27 points through 63 games. After a 2014-15 that saw him put up a team-leading 31 goals, a total that also placed him as one of the NHL‘s top goal producers. It was a campaign that made his $5 million contract look like sheer brilliance. Unfortunately, he came back down to earth and has fallen well off the pace that made him one of the most dangerous goal scorers in hockey.
Vrbata was drafted in the 7th round, 212th overall, of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. He has played for the Colorado Avalanche, Carolina Hurricanes, Arizona Coyotes and the Canucks over the course of 934 NHL contests. Throughout his entire career, Vrbata has registered 259 goals, and 554 total points. His career year for goals came in 2011-12 when he scored 35, while his 62 points in 2014-15 with the Canucks was a career high.
Despite the disappointing previous campaign, there’s still reason to believe Vrbata can bounce back. He is unlikely to regain 30-goal level production, but 20 markers is a reasonable hope for Arizona, though perhaps a bit on the high side. Vrbata will likely log top-six minutes without a hurting the young Coyotes, and at his age, that’s still a reasonably high standard of performance.
The Coyotes roster features a very young group up front. Vrbata joins Brad Richardson and the ageless Shane Doan as the only forwards over the age of 30. Vrbata could see his time diminish over the season as the younger players take larger roles on the team but it’s a sound deal for the Coyotes as they round out their roster for the 2016-17 season.