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…
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.”
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.