Montreal Canadiens v Phoenix Coyotes

UFA of the Day: Radim Vrbata


Check PHT each weekday for the first four weeks of June for a new pending unrestricted free agent of the day. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

Radim Vrbata

There are only seven pending UFAs who scored at least 20 goals in 2013-14, and Vrbata was one of them. In 2011-12, he scored 35 times, tied for the 11th most in the NHL. But because he’s a member of the Phoenix Coyotes, he doesn’t get much publicity.

Vrbata’s expiring contract paid him $9 million over three years — a good deal for the Coyotes, general manager Don Maloney admitted in September.

“He’s been a very good player for us and we’ve had great value for what we’re paying him,” Maloney said, per Fox Sports Arizona. “I feel like we’re always fair in our contracts — my idea of fair and other camps’ idea may be different — but when you look at his numbers, he’s probably earned more.”

The player and club talked contract extension in the preseason, but nothing came of it.

Vrbata has scored 215 times in his NHL career, but the 33-year-old winger didn’t really hit his stride until 2007-08, when he potted 27 goals for the Coyotes. In fact, he never had much success with any of the other four teams (Colorado, Carolina, Chicago, Tampa Bay) he played for — a fact of which he’s aware.

“It’s not always about the money,” Vrbata said. “You want to be paid fair, but sometimes it’s better to take less and be in a good situation.”

If it’s not Phoenix, a “good situation” would be one where he gets time with the man advantage. This past season, half his 20 goals came on a much-improved Coyotes power play.

Sabres place Lehner on IR; Recall Lieuwen

Connor Brown, Robin Lehner
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They’re just one game into their regular season, but the Buffalo Sabres have already had to shift things around in their crease.

The Sabres announced that they have placed starting goaltender Robin Lehner on injured reserve after he was knocked out of Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury.

In a corresponding move, the club has recalled Nathan Lieuwen from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

The 24-year-old didn’t play in the NHL last season, but he did have a 1-4-0 record with a 2.98 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage in seven games during the 2013-14 season.

Lieuwen was Buffalo’s sixth round pick, 167th overall, in the 2011 draft.

The Sabres also announced that they have loaned defenseman Jake McCabe and goaltender Linus Ullmark to the Rochester Americans (AHL).

McCabe was a healthy scratch in Thursday’s game against Ottawa, while Ullmark is being activated off I.R. after having double hip surgery during the off-season.



Chara ‘doubtful’ for game against rival Canadiens

Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara
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It looks like the Boston Bruins will be without their captain again on Saturday night.

Head coach Claude Julien told members of the media that Zdeno Chara is considered doubtful for tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Chara suffered an upper-body injury during the preseason and he’s already been forced to miss Boston’s season opening loss to the Jets.

Per CSN, Chara says he’s improving but he won’t return to the lineup until he’s as close to 100 percent as possible.

“Every area of the injury is improving,” said Chara. “Hopefully it’s not long before I’m free of any kind of discomfort. That’s what we’re doing right now…we’re being patient. For sure you don’t want to come back, and be half of what you are…and basically hurting yourself and the team. And you’re putting yourself in a position where you could be missing more time. At this time of the season, I think it’s important to be as close as you can be to 100 percent.”

Based on the number of defensive mistakes they committed on Thursday, the Bruins need Chara back as soon as possible: