Phoenix Coyotes v Nashville Predators

Vrbata’s asking price high, Coyotes expect he’ll go to market


Sounds as though Radim Vrbata’s time in the desert will soon be up.

Vrbata, who scored a career-high 35 goals for the Coyotes two years ago, looks as though he’ll be testing free agency tomorrow, per Fox Sports Arizona:

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.

Vrbata is believed to be seeking a three-to-four year deal at an average annual value of $4.5 million. Given the Coyotes’ financial constraints and Vrbata’s age (33) that is probably too much.

Vrbata just wrapped the last of a three-year, $9 million deal so it’s not overly surprising he’s looking for a significant pay bump in what looks to be a relatively thin draft year. In terms of UFA goalscoring wingers, Vrbata’s right up there — he had 20 goals or more in four of his six seasons in Arizona and, during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign, scored 12 times in 34 games…which works out to 28 over an 82-game season.

It also sounds as though teams are ready to pounce on the Czech sniper. Per Sportsnet, “as many as six teams are serious” in acquiring Vrbata’s services.

There’s also this, from ESPN:

Stars to scratch Nichushkin after rough outing versus Avs?

Craig Anderson
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Looks as though slumping Dallas winger Valeri Nichushkin could be a healthy scratch tonight when the Stars host the Oilers at American Airlines.

Per the Morning-News, Nichushkin — who barely played in the second and third periods of Saturday’s 6-3 loss to Colorado — is likely to be replaced by Colton Sceviour in the lineup.

Stars head coach Lindy Ruff was fuming after the Avs defeat, calling it “embarrassing, worse than disappointing.” It didn’t take a genius to realize one of the players in his doghouse was Nichushkin, who had just 2:02 of ice time in the second period and 3:24 in the third.

Yesterday, Ruff dropped Nichushkin to the fourth line in practice.

“I’ve been trying to help him by shifting him around,” the head coach explained. “He had some struggles early in camp on right wing, so I put him on left, and he doesn’t seem real comfortable at left right now.

“His game, everything has got to get a little bit quicker.”

The 10th overall pick in 2013, Nichushkin has struggled to build on the form shown in his rookie campaign, when he scored 14 goals and 34 points in 79 contests.

He missed nearly all of last season with a linger hip ailment and has been a virtual non-factor through the first two games this year.

Report: Teams ‘screaming bloody murder’ about Richards settlement

Mike Richards

When the Los Angeles Kings announced they’d settled with Mike Richards, it didn’t take long for the accusations of salary-cap circumvention to materialize.

And though NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly was adamant that the settlement was “far from” circumvention, apparently not everyone agrees with the league in that regard.

“Privately, other teams are screaming bloody murder and are threatening to make an issue about it at December’s Board of Governors’ meeting,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports.

Friedman goes into more detail in his story, so click the link to read more.

But remember how we wrote that the issue in this case was precedent, and that the “NHL and NHLPA can’t allow teams to escape onerous contracts through a back door”?

Well, one agent posed a good question to Friedman: “What’s to stop other teams from trying this?”