Arizona right winger Radim Vrbata holds a unique distinction among the 719 players to suit up in the NHL this season, writes Alex Prewitt of Sports Illustrated. Vrbata is the lone player in the league to be in his third stint with the same organization. Vrbata played with the Coyotes in 2007-08, then was traded back there again in 2009, staying until 2014. After a two year stint with Vancouver, he returned to the desert, signing a one year, incentive-laden deal with Arizona this summer.
When he had signed with the Canucks, Vrbata admitted that he never really wanted to leave the Coyotes and had stayed in touch with plenty of players and staffers over the past two seasons with the hope of returning down the road. The 35 year old enjoyed the familiarity that only Arizona could provide, from the market to the coach (Dave Tippett), to even his linemate in Martin Hanzal.
That comfort level appears to have been quite helpful for Vrbata in his third stint with the team. After following up a 63 point effort two years ago with arguably the worst season of his career in 2015-16, he’s off to a strong start with Arizona this season with four goals and six assists through his first nine games and is currently skating on their top line.
[Related: Coyotes Depth Chart]
Elsewhere around the league:
- Red Wings right winger Thomas Vanek is expected to miss the next 2-3 weeks with a hip strain, GM Ken Holland told MLive’s Ansar Khan. Holland remains hopeful that defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who has yet to play this season with a knee injury, will be able to return to the lineup in the next week or so. Meanwhile right winger Tomas Jurco, who is still recovering from offseason back surgery, is likely to be cleared for contact sometime next week. Holland anticipates Jurco would need another 7-10 days beyond that to get into game shape.
- Bruins left winger Matt Beleskey is set to be a healthy scratch tonight against Tampa Bay, notes CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty. Beleskey is off to a tough start this season with no points and a -7 rating in nine games. Prospect Sean Kuraly will make his NHL debut in Beleskey’s spot on Boston’s third line.
- The Flyers have sent center Scott Laughton to their AHL affiliate in Lehigh Valley on a conditioning assignment, the team announced. The 22 year old suffered a lower body injury back in training camp and is currently on long-term injury reserve. He’s eligible to be activated on Saturday but it would appear that he’ll get into a couple of games in the minors before joining Philadelphia’s active roster. Still with Philly, defenseman Andrew MacDonald is expected to miss at least the next week with a lower body injury, the club announced (Twitter link).