Born: June 13 1981 (34 years old)
From: MLADA BOLESLAV, CZECH REPUBLIC
Height: 6'1" -- Weight 194 [185 cm/88 kg]
Nickname: Vrby, Vrbs, Vrsniper, VrSerious, VrBadAss.
Drafted: by Colorado Avalanche - round 7 #212 overall 1999 NHL Entry Draft
Signed by Canucks: 2014 for 2 years/$10M Contract
Status: Unrestricted Free Agent
When JB signed Radim back in the heady rebuild-on-the-fly summer days of 2014 Canuck nation was bursting with sniperific glee. A shooter! A steely Czech finish on the Sedinery. Radim was keen to play with the Twins. The Twins were keen to have a serious weapon on the powerplay that would rather shoot first and ask for vowels later.
The promise of power play perfection and serious snipes was pretty much as advertised. Radim had a career year in 2014-2015 - led the team in goals (which many analytic experts at the time felt could predict the outcome of a game 99 out of 100 times).
Vrby scored 31 goals, had 32 assists (he's not just a shooter, he's a shooter that cares and shares). Good, real good, for 63 points through 79 games. His scoring touch on the PP was fast and serious. Right off the draw.
He was deployed to the 2nd line during the '15 stretch run and the playoffs to help bolster the secondary scoring. That 2nd line was centered by some guy called Nick who was later traded for some guy (I will look up his name later for you) who we didn't get to see much of because of factory defects, injury addiction or something.
The Twins and Vrbs combined for 79 goals, helping the Nucks finish 8th in the league in scoring. Eighth. That's like inside the top ten. Ah...happy times. And the times could only get better. A proven sniper on the top line and Trader Jim's off season deal wrangling would fill in the blank (shots) in the supporting lines. The End.
Of the happy times. Unfortunately, there's this recently (and thankfully) completed season that Radim played a small part of. Seriously small. Like the smallness one observes when their career year point production is dropped off a cliff and drops and drops and disappears into the dark abyss of a career low.
Radim tied Dank and Yank for the team lead in hat tricks. Yay! He had a single hat trick all season. Oh. His 3 goals against the Sabres were 23% of his entire goal output over 63 games. Oh...that's more like...
From the giddy heights of sniperific artistry to the stinking bowels of his worst results ever in the NHL is too jarring for Nucks fans already gnashing teeth and fists over a team destined to set new records. Record lows. The Nucks Year of the Injury Faeries started ok(ish). But, Verby was bumped to Willie's 2nd line player roulette. Nothing seemed to click.
With a lethargic start to his season, just 3 goals in his first 19 games, it could only get better. Except it didn't. That hattie night in early December seemed to promise that the sniper had returned. Except he didn't. His season's production was just 27 points (less than half of the happy year total). 13 goals and 14 helpers. Ugh. At least he still liked to share. So there's that.
Meanwhile on the plus/minus side of his game...well...dat 2nd line. Gotta keep up with the youngins. A small triumph for age and indifference - Radim tied Bo with a -30 on the year. Many claim Bo's stats were a result of the dreaded sophomore slump. Radim was in his Nucks sophomore year too. Prolly just a coincidence.
While he had a really tough year, receiving one million and twenty-seven f****** insults in the season's NM game threads, one couldn't help but wonder why. Why? Why this season when the team was already suffering the driest goal drought since the arid spring of '98? Trying to be the 'good' team player? A soft Willie protest? He discovered that flashing red lights made him nauseas? An enigma wrapped in five million Murican greenbacks.
What Did We Like?
Well...there was this:
And then there was...uh...we really liked that he is a safe driver driving a plain old safe SUV.
So Now What?
Vrbata is out of a contract. Free to seek offers from other teams who want a player who can play a full two way game. One way as a bonafide sniper and the other way as a coasting salary cap sink.
So...what to do. Does JB resign him?
Maybe, just maybe, if he'll take a a $2M one year show-me-again deal, could be worth it. Maybe this season was just the perfect storm of the team's low point synced with Vrbata's enigmatic sophomorific cycle funk. Or not.
So...take a chance or take off...
As a fully accredited NM armchair GM, do you feel lucky, punk?