Radim Vrbata might be the best impending free agent no one is talking about this year. His price may be too high for the frugal Arizona Coyotes, but for any team willing to spend around $5 million annually on a former 35-goal scorer who plays on the wing, there is a steal waiting on July 1.
The Arizona Coyotes appear ready to move on from Vrbata, per Fox Sports Arizona, after the team traded a sixth round pick for center Sam Gagner. After having picked up a bulk of Gagner’s salary from the Tampa Bay Lightning, the team has accomplished two stated goals: To fortify center ice and to get younger.
Meanwhile, at 33, Vrbata doesn’t appear to fit the long-term plans of the Coyotes. The piece notes, “When asked specifically if the Gagner trade closed the door on a return by wing Radim Vrbata, [GM Don] Maloney said the Coyotes would love to have him back, but the asking price is currently too high.”
That asking price? About ‘a three-to-four year deal at an average annual value of $4.5 million’.
That may seem like a bit much for a 33 year old winger, but Vrbata has put in some stellar work in the last few years in the anonymity of Arizona. He’s scored 110 goals in 352 games since 2009 on a Coyotes team that has never been known for sporting a big offense. His 20 goals were third on the team last year, which is the lowest his goals have ranked on the Coyotes team since 2009.
Expect Vrbata to be among the most highly coveted wingers by playoff teams looking for a boost of goal scoring and experience.