Radim Vrbata was all smiles during our interview in November when I asked about why he came back to Arizona.
FFH: When you came from Chicago to Arizona the first time. You’re going from a city that is cold and snowing on a lake, to a place that’s 75*F in the middle of the winter. Was that kind of a shock when you first-
RV: The funny thing is I never thought I could play in good weather. Every time we would go to Florida, even Phoenix. I thought it was nice but it’s like vacation. But you know, that first year, fell in love with it. And I would never, ever change now.
FFH: You’ve consistently come back. Is it because it feels like home, you love the atmosphere, you love the team, is it that sort of thing?
RV: I like the atmosphere, the people around the team. Not just coaches or players but the trainers, the media people, the PR people. It’s a good feeling when you come to the rink.
FFH: It’s really nice to see that the organization is a big family.
RV: Especially those years with the ownership situation, and the move talk. Having it around everyday brought everyone that much closer. It’s a good atmosphere around the team.
And that set the tone for him back in Arizona for me.
Vrbata was coming out of a tough situation in Vancouver, where he was promised to play with the Sedins and ended up playing with Bo Horvat. Vrbata is a sniper of a winger and he has to have the right center to score. For a long time, that center was Martin Hanzal.
With Vrbata’s return to Arizona, I for one was excited to see if the magic was still there between the two. I couldn’t have been happier with the results, until Hanzal’s trade.
Vrbata finished the season playing 81 games with 20 goals and 35 assists for 55 points, the team leader in scoring, was the team’s MVP for obvious reasons, and also took on Hanzal’s A after the trade.
He's 36 now, starting to slow down in his production, but not by much. With young players like Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, Brendan Perlini, Christian Fischer, and Clayton Keller coming into and dominating the lineup, his workload should start to decrease. The player that closest resembles Vrbata on the team currently is Perlini and his deadly shot.
I would love to see Vrbata come on for one more year to help the younger players develop and to be a part of a team that will be in transition. His style of play and skill also show that he can play a few more years.
I give Vrbata an A+ for the season. Yes, he had his streaky moments, but he knows how to make goals count when they are needed.
The grades of all the other Coyotes players can be found on our master post here.
What Grade Would You Give Radim Vrbata?
This poll is closed
The only answer is A+
Thus ends our player grades for the season. Thank you for being with us throughout this series and now we are ramping up for the draft.
Check back later this week for a recap of the grades of each player and a chance to grade the team as a whole!