As much as the story of Radim Vrbata’s new contract was about the Vancouver Canucks adding a key winger, the other reaction was: who, exactly, is going to score goals for the Arizona Coyotes next season?
That question remains, yet Coyotes GM Don Maloney answered another big question with Fox Sports Arizona’s Craig Morgan: why did they let the 33-year-old forward go?
It certainly doesn’t sound like the Coyotes were glad to part with him like, say, Mike Ribeiro (whom they paid to go away). Maloney told Morgan that he was in contact with Vrbata over texts to try to work something out and seemed to get very close.
The stumbling block was clear: Vrbata wanted a no-trade or no-movement clause while Maloney and the Coyotes stood their ground.
As Morgan discusses here, Vrbata seemed like he wanted to stay with the Coyotes, yet the Canucks’ deal provided security he simply couldn’t turn down:
Vrbaa and his wife, Petra, had their second son (Oliver) on April 30, so there was plenty of thought given to remaining in Phoenix. They weren’t keen on the idea of uprooting the family at such a delicate time. The couple loves living in the Valley, and Vrbata knows full well that his best years as a pro have all come wearing a Coyotes sweater.
The next question is: will Maloney regret “dying on this hill?”
On one hand, you have plenty of examples of teams struggling to deal a player who wants out but also gets to make the call about where he’ll accept a trade.
On the other hand, would Maloney be better served stating that he won’t give out such clauses to players on long-term deals? One would imagine it’s a little easier to stomach a player who has that power on a two-year contract like the one Vrbata signed, especially if he was willing to take less money with the Coyotes.
Either way, many West teams got much more formidable on paper while the Coyotes did not. At the same time, Maloney & Co. can enjoy more flexibility and hope that the team’s young players can pick up the slack.
Did Maloney make the right choice?