The Basic Info
Radim Vrbata lit the lamp 31 times during the 2014-15 season with the Vancouver Canucks and added 32 assists on top of that. This season however the two-time 30 goal scorer scored just 13 goals and had 14 helpers in 63 contests.
The soon to be 35-year-old is coming off of a rather large two-year, $10 million deal he signed with the Canucks in July of 2014 during that year's free-agent frenzy. He won't be getting that type of money from any NHL team this summer and will have to take a pay cut after Vrbata showed a season ago that he was trending nowhere but down.
With that being said, teams will want Vrbata. Not all of them by any means, but there will be suitors. After all, he does have seven 40-point NHL seasons to his name.
Now, you're probably already saying to yourself while reading this that there are much better options set to hit the market; yes, that is a fact. You're also probably thinking that the Preds could promote from within and have someone serve the same role Vrbata would; I can probably give you that one but then again Vrbata does have a proven track record. Lastly, you've definitely said to yourself why would Nashville add another 35-year-old to a top-nine forward group that, at the moment, features Mike Fisher and Mike Ribeiro up the middle.
Let's look at some in-depth numbers, yes?
Vrbata spent most of the season playing alongside Sven Baertschi and Bo Horvat, which could have something to do with his dip in production. Baertschi demanded a trade from the Flames in March and had spent the majority of his time in the AHL prior to joining the Canucks. Horvat on the other hand just turned 21-years-old a month ago.
The Vrbata - Horvat - Baertschi trio played 219:39 at even strength together and held a 46.5% Corsi For percentage. While combining for 10 goals and allowing nine. It's also worth noting that they started in the defensive zone 102 times compared to just 76 in the offensive zone during the year.
Those two other players he played with you may have heard of. With Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin, Vrbata's numbers improved (SHOCKING). Vrbata's Corsi For jumped to 45.4% alone when paired with the twins while the three held a combined Corsi For percentage of 53.8%, but scored just five goals together while 37% of their face offs came in the offensive zone at even strength. Vrbata was the young one on the line at 34-years-old while the twins were 35-years-old.
Now onto Vrbata's numbers alone.
Those numbers above reflect Vrbata's play over the last three seasons but 44.4% of the numbers and graphs come from the 2015-16 campaign. When it comes to Vrbata on the offensive side of the puck, he screams second-line winger but with age and his drop in offensive production the third-line may suit him best, especially if he joins a team that isn't in the basement of the NHL.
His Corsi For percentage on the year wasn't abysmal by any means, but it wasn't fantastic either. He finished 11th among Canucks' skaters that played in at least 50 games with a Corsi For percentage of 49.64% at even strength.
Vrbata was one of Vancouver's top power play guys as well with five goals and four helpers while averaging 2:51 of PP time per contest. His nine points on the man advantage put him in a tie for fourth most among Canucks.
Where Would He Fit?
In the shot rate differential for chart there is some red there, but not the amount nor shade you want to see if you are Vrbata, a Canucks fan or a team that may be thinking about signing Vrbata.
As for where he would fit, clearly not in front of the net, that is for sure. Vrbata makes his living by taking outside shots.
Does It Make Sense?
Vrbata has a scoring touch, but based off of last season he may be on the verge of losing it. Plus, where would Vrbata fit in the Preds lineup? The Preds are in need of a first-line winger, but on the left side. Could Vrbata maybe move to left-wing and play alongside Ryan Johansen and James Neal? Possibly, but the Preds also have those players named Filip Forsberg, Colin Wilson and Calle Jarnkrok that have and could fit best long term at the first-line left-wing position.
That leaves a second-line or third-line position for Vrbata and if you put him on a line with possible second or third-line center Mike Ribeiro then you have two guys on the ice that have never even seen the front of the net. Nashville could put him with Fisher who will get dirty in front of the goal, but then you have to put a speedy winger on the left-wing during either situation and who knows what the chemistry may be like there.
The Czech Republic native doesn't fit in the Nashville system....unless he is willing to sign for cheap, really cheap. There are better options out there but there are also worse. I don't think Vrbata would be atop the list of wants for the Preds this summer, but he won't be at the bottom either.