Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Coyotes Get Radim Vrbata Back

Hoping to catch lightning in a bottle (pun intended) the Yotes today picked up journeyman winger Radim Vrbata from Tampa Bay in an deal for spare parts Todd Fedoruk and David Hale.

Two years ago, Vrbata had a career year in his only Phoenix season. He scored 27 goals and 56 points in 76 games. Radim cashed in with a 3 year, $9MM contract in Tampa and his sudden goalscoring prowess cashed out. Vrbata went home to the Czech Republic after he managed only 3 goals in 18 games during the Barry Melrose era. Barry didn't fair much better.

The real question for the Coyotes is what Vrbata are you getting? Radim never scored more than 18 goals in his 5 NHL seasons prior to joining the Coyotes, bouncing from Colorado to Carolina to Chicago. He'll come back to the desert to an offense that desperately needs goalscorers.

Other than some cash out, there's not a lot of downside to this trade. Fedoruk used to be a lower-tier heavyweight in the NHL but beatings from Derek Boogaard and Colton Orr pretty much ended his fighting career. Todd and I were probably the only two people who were both in the same arena on those nights. I fared better than he did. Fedoruk has a history of being a good team guy but he's really not capable of producing either as an offensive player or full time checker. Hale, well he was just awful in Phoenix. Neither figured in the Coyotes plans this year.

And there's probably some positive local buzz that will come off of this move. I wasn't living fulltime in Phoenix two years ago so I don't know how popular Vrbata is but the return of a 27 goalscorer never hurts. He's probably not the last addition to the team but he will add to the forward mix. That means more competition for the top nine forward positions.

And it also means that Don Maloney's work is not done. Yet.

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