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Numbers Game: Canucks get Vrbata

Scott Cullen
7/4/2014 10:38:57 AM
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The Vancouver Canucks may have found a nice option to skate alongside the Sedins on their top line.

Numbers Game breaks down the Canucks' signing of Radim Vrbata.

The Canucks Get: RW Radim Vrbata.

Vrbata is a 33-year-old winger who has been quietly effective while toiling in the Arizona desert. He's scored 110 goals and 232 points over the past five seasons, the 110 goals ranks 36th in the league.

He's a positive puck possession player and should be looking at a plum opportunity in Vancouver.

If there is one enviable spot for a scoring forward to play in the Canucks' lineup, it would be on right wing with the Sedin twins and that's where Vrbata is projected to start. Last season's 51 points was Vrbata's third-best total of his career, and that came with a 7.6% shooting percentage, his lowest in a full season since 2006-2007. He also had an on-ice shooting percentage of 7.69%, which is relatively modest, and while the Sedins were in that range last season too, they have typically had better success finishing.

There is justifiably some concern that Vrbata is 33 and the Sedins will be 34 by the time next season begins, so production may be declining as a function of age -- standard stuff -- but, based on their respective skills, Vrbata and the Sedins should be productive together.

An additional concern, when it comes to Vrbata in particular, is that he's had limited success while playing for a team other than the Coyotes. He has 288 points in 428 games with the Coyotes, 0.67 per game, but he's never been that productive anywhere else, averaging 0.48 points per game in 364 games with Colorado, Carolina, Chicago and Tampa Bay.

Until they add another top-six forward, Arizona figures to miss Vrbata. They don't have a ton of skill up front and, unless Sam Gagner moves to the wing (opening up a hole at centre), the Coyotes' current wingers on the top two lines would be Mikkel Boedker, Shane Doan, Martin Erat and Lauri Korpikoski. That's a situation that needs to be addressed if Arizona is going to be competitive next season.

It's reasonable to have hopes for Vrbata to remain productive, playing with skilled linemates, but there are a few risks involved too. The Canucks mitigated against those risks by keeping the term of Vrbata's deal short, signing him for two years and $10-million.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.




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