11:45am: ESPN’s Craig Custance reports that the deal will carry a base salary of $1MM while Morgan adds that bonuses for games played, goals, points, and playoff incentives could make the contract worth as much as $3MM.
August 14: According to Craig Morgan of AZ Central, Arizona is nearing a one year contract with unrestricted free agent right winger Radim Vrbata. Morgan notes that the deal could be announced Monday.
The deal would mark a return to a familiar team for the 35 year old as he has two prior stints with the Coyotes. He spent the 2007-08 season there and then rejoined them two years later, spending another five seasons with the team. Overall, he has played in 428 games for that franchise, scoring 137 goals and 151 assists, posting his highest goals per game and points per game rate compared to his time with other teams.
Vrbata is coming off his worst season in over a decade. Last year with the Canucks, he recorded just 27 points (13-14-27) in 63 games while posting an awful -30 plus/minus rating. His struggles came as quite the surprise as the year before that, he had a career year with Vancouver, collecting 31 goals and 32 assists in 79 games.
Vrbata would provide another veteran presence up front for Arizona, a team that is expected to have several young forwards in its core next season. It would also provide them with some insurance in case they are unable to come to terms with RFA Tobias Rieder, who reportedly is at least mulling over the idea of playing in the KHL next season.
[Related: Coyotes’ Depth Chart]
We ranked Vrbata 27th in our Top 50 UFA list back in June. We had him pegged for a one year, $3.7MM deal at that time but this contract appears to have come in well below that.