Phoenix Coyotes Preseason Countdown: 17 Days

Dave Sandford

With our countdown hitting 17 days we take a look at forward Radim Vrbata.

So here we are, 17 days until the preseason begins and our focus moves back to a current forward for the Phoenix Coyotes, Radim Vrbata. Since re-joining the Coyotes in 2009 he has racked up 66 goals and 72 assists in 190 games while becoming a fan favorite in the Valley.

Vrby was drafted 212th overall in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft by the Colorado Avalanche. He played his first full season in 2001 after playing a season with the Hershey Bears of the AHL. In March 2003, he was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes where he stayed until December 2005, when he was acquired by the Chicago Blackhawks. It was during the 2006-2007 season, his last season with Chi-Town, that Vrbata reached a then career high 41 points. During that off-season, he was acquired by the Desert Dogs and soon surpassed his previous high with a 56-point season.

After one season, the Czech was free-agent and left for the Tampa Bay Lightning. He played only 18 games with Tampa Bay before asking for a release to return to the Czech Republic; which he was granted. Vrbata spent the rest of the 2008-2009 season in the Czech leagues, but when he asked to return to Tampa for the second year of his contract, there wasn't a place for the forward. On July 21, 2009 he found himself going back to the Desert in a trade for David Hale and Todd Fedoruk.

Since his return, Vrbata has put up a career high 62 points in the 2011-2012 season and a .82 point per game average in the truncated 2012-2013 season. His second stint in Arizona has proven to be comparable with the other elite goal-scorers in the NHL.

Vrbata is a key player in the Coyotes line-up and one could expect great things from him this season as he enters a contract year. The question is how good is he going to be? Could this be another record setting season for the Czech? All indicators are pointing toward great things for Vrbata.

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