Each day from now until July 1, the day free agency begins, Sarah Baicker and Tim Riday will profile some of the NHL's top impending free agents and project their likelihood of signing with the Flyers.
Radim Vrbata, right wing
Last team: Phoenix Coyotes
2013-14 cap hit: $3 million
Vrbata is an excellent skater and always knows where to be in both the offensive and defensive zones. He has good hands and tremendous vision. He's creative in the offensive zone, but can be frustrating to play with at times because of his pass-first mentality. He has decent size, but isn't the first winger to crash the boards and battle for a puck. He's at his best when he's able to roam and get to the center of the ice.
Selected in the ninth round of the 1999 NHL draft by the Colorado Avalanche, Vrbata is a two-time 20-goal scorer. He's collected 215 markers and 249 assists in 792 NHL games between the Avs, Coyotes, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning. He posted a career-high 35 goals and 62 points with Phoenix in 2011-12, his best season as a professional. Last year with the Coyotes, Vrbata potted 20 goals and assisted 31 more.
While the goals and hands would be helpful, Vrbata probably isn't going to become a Flyer this offseason. The team's top nine doesn't need another right wing who can play both sides of the ice -- it's already full of those kinds of players. Add to that Vrbata's notorious inconsistency, and it's just not a signing that makes sense. Depending on how things play out the rest of the summer, I'd think Brayden Schenn would be more likely to take the right-wing spot that a player like Vrbata would occupy. Pass.
I think the Flyers will keep their distance from Vrbata. They don't need another playmaking forward and Vrbata lacks game-to-game consistency. I'd much rather see them go after a player with a shoot-first attitude. It's also difficult to gauge how much Vrbata is worth. He made $3 million last season and might ask for a raise after finishing second on the Coyotes in scoring last season. Before landing in Phoenix, which will soon be known as Arizona, Vrbata looked like he was going to be a career journeyman. But he's spent the past five years with the Coyotes and seems comfortable with his role on the club. My guess is he'll re-sign and possibly finish his playing days with the Coyotes.