He was an under the radar free agency pickup, brought in to shore up the top six and put yet another gifted winger with the Sedin twins, and Radim Vrbata did not disappoint. He was one of the bright spots of the 2014-15 Vancouver Canucks season, setting career-best totals and rejuvenating the aging Sedins after a season of turmoil in 2013-14. And, his backstory extends long before the Vancouver spotlight as well.
Drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the 7th round at the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, he is currently the best player on the Canucks drafted in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft* (*May not include Swedish twins). He bounced from Colorado, to Carolina and then to Chicago, solidifying his stake in the “All teams beginning with the letter ‘C’” game.
It wasn’t until he got to the Coyotes that he really solidified himself as a top 6 presence. In his first year in Glendale, he set career highs in goals and assists and lead the team in scoring. He departed for Tampa Bay during free agency in 2008, cashing in on his production. He returned to the Czech Republic for a short period of time, citing personal issues and ended up back on the Coyotes through trade for 2009-10 season. He enjoyed career-high totals in the years with Arizona, and cashed in again in free agency, this time with the Canucks.
What to Expect in 2015/16
Top six minutes will not be a problem for Vrbata, who proved to be consistent last season with the Twins for a majority of the year. He may shift down to the second line, if Willie wishes to have the Sedins mentor one of the young guys on the team, or returns to the age-old combo of Sedin-Sedin-Burrows. Regardless, you can expect similar results to his season from last year, his 63 point season, as he has always proven to not be a streaky player, but a consistent player.
- 2014-15 NHL All-Star
- Led Canucks in goals (2014-15)
- 2014-15 Babe Pratt Award Winner (Canucks MVP)
- Became a Meme