UFA of the Day: Radim Vrbata

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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.