If Radim Vrbata Is Out Who's Next to Come from San Antonio?

SAN JOSE CA - DECEMBER 23: Jason Demers #60 of the San Jose Sharks beats Radim Vrbata #17 the Phoenix Coyotes to the puck during the 1st period of an NHL hockey game at the HP Pavilion on December 23 2010 in San Jose California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

At the midpoint of last night's game against the Sharks, the Coyotes' Radim Vrbata left the game with what is now being called a lower body injury. It wasn't at all clear what it was that caused the injury, in fact the announce team didn't even realize it until after a few minutes had passed in the third period. I was actually counting guys on the bench and didn't see him out there before Dave Strader even said anything. The Coyotes have yet to make any statement on the severity of the injury or if he'll miss any real playing time. That leaves us to speculate on what will or should happen if he's out for any length of time. With Taylor Pyatt out and Wojtek wolski also having some sort of minor injury if they stay out of the lineup someone will have to come up to replace Vrbata but who?

The candidates after the jump...

Brett MacLean: Now in his third season and the last of his entry level contract, MacLean is the top goal scorer on the Rampage for this season and is now the franchise's top all time goal scorer with 65 goals. He lit up the OHL when he was playing with the Oshawa Generals as well with 131 goals over 4 seasons including an astounding 61 goals in his final season (2007-08). Coyotes fans likely haven't seen much of him outside of camp, but he's played well at every level and if Vrbata's shooting is what the team is looking to replace he's not a bad choice. 

Alexandre Picard: While when Don Maloney traded for him in the offseason he was expected to contribute more toughness than anything else, Picard is second on the Rampage with 13 goals (13-8-21). I'm not sure how good of a replacement he is for Vrbata but the lines will be juggled anyways with so many nagging injuries guys seem to have at the moment. 

Petr Prucha: While he's been great in San Antonio since being sent down earlier in the year, it's not likely he gets called back up. That's simply because if he was he'd have to clear re-entry waivers. At 600k I don't know of many teams that wouldn't take a chance on him were he to be put on re-entry waivers. I like his speed and ability especially as a replacement for Vrbata, but it's just not going to happen (Sorry YotesGurl)

Mathieu Beaudoin: He's bounced around the AHL a lot of the last few years playing for 7 different teams in only 4 seasons. In 72 games with the AHL Texas Stars he recorded 19 goals and 25 assists for 44 points. This year in only 27 games he's on pace to do much better than that with 12 goals and 15 assists for 27 points. He's not a likely candidate, but the video staff as well as the coaching staff in general will certainly give him a look.

Viktor Tikhonov: He's not racking up goals (4) down on the farm but in the assist category he's doing pretty well with 13 helpers in 28 games. The upside is that he's had significant NHL time, just not in Dave Tippett's system. He's on the short list, but MacLean and Picard have got to be higher up at this point. He also has a broken hand, so probably a no go there.

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