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Radim Vrbata is the Arizona Coyotes’ nominee for the Masterton Memorial Trophy

A great comeback story ends in a Masterton nomination

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at Calgary Flames Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

As the regular season winds down, awards season begins to get into gear. The Arizona Coyotes now have their nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

Radim Vrbata, in his third tour of duty with the Coyotes in his 1,000+ game NHL career, was selected by the PHWA for Arizona as the Coyote who best embodies “the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey”.

The 212th overall selection in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, Vrbata overcame the odds to score 277 goals and 330 assists in a 1,010 NHL game career (which will become 1,011 after tonight’s game against the St. Louis Blues). He has fought through adjusting to life in North America after growing up in the Czech Republic, as well as several tough seasons that nearly ended his career before it could really flourish.

Vrbata came back to Arizona after a two-year stint in Vancouver. He came on a short and cheap one-year, $1 million deal after his final year with the Canucks was characterized with disappointing production (13 goals and 14 assists in 63 games) and almost 20 missed games.

Back in Arizona, Vrbata regained his form. He earned another $1 million in performance bonuses by playing in over 30 games and tallying over 40 points. With 18 goals and 35 assists in 76 games, Vrbata has been an invaluable asset to Arizona’s young core group of forwards.

At 35 years old, Vrbata still has plenty left in the tank, so look for the Coyotes to attempt to retain him this offseason. His leadership and perseverance are great assets to have in the locker room alongside his scoring touch, which makes him an excellent choice to receive the Masterton Memorial Trophy.