clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2016 Montreal Canadiens free agency targets: Buyer beware with Radim Vrbata

Radim Vrbata may still be able to help an NHL club, but he is in the midst of a serious decline.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The last time that Radim Vrbata was available, many Canadiens fans were touting the idea of bringing him to Montreal. Come July 1, he will once again hit the open market, looking to get a new deal.

He is obviously no longer the player that he once was, but can still be a valuable piece for an NHL team. With that being said, should the Habs take a look at bringing him over to help out their forward group next year?

His numbers over the three year span look pretty nice, but you have to remember that he is bound to decline quickly. I decided to compile his numbers from the last three years individually in this table, which is sortable by clicking on the column headings.

Season GP G A P P/60 CF% CF%Rel iSF SH% SF% GF%
2015-16 63 8 6 14 1.1 46.94 -0.73 134 5.97 47.88 34.48
2014-15 79 15 18 33 1.98 51.31 2.31 178 8.43 52.19 53.42
2013-14 80 9 19 28 1.55 51.29 0.99 175 5.14 51.22 51.16

Maybe last year was an anomaly, but at his age the overwhelming likelihood is that he is declining, and fast. Yes, his shooting percentage was a little low in 2015-16, but he has done better with it being even lower. And it's not just the points going down either, it's everything.

Obviously he played in less games last year than he did in the two previous years, but there is still a big enough sample to make certain conclusions. The most important conclusion is that all of his numbers are heading in the wrong direction.

In terms of shot suppression and general defensive play, he leaves quite a bit to be desired. In a middle-six role with very sheltered offensive deployment, he has a chance to bring something attractive to the table. Anything else and it unfortunately seems that he's more of a liability than an asset.

The big question is whether you can bring him in on a reasonable deal.

For the last two years, the Canucks were paying him $4 million per year, with bonuses pushing the total to $5 million AAV against the cap. Now 35-years-old and clearly in decline, he's going to be taking a major haircut. It could be the last NHL contract of his career though, so he and his agent will obviously try to make it decent.

If you can bring him in on a short term deal with a much lower AAV, it could be worth it. You basically need his contract to be easily movable. That way, if it doesn't work out, you're not handcuffed with a deal that you might end up having to use a buyout on.

If I were Marc Bergevin, I would set my ceiling for Vrbata at one year, at most two, and under $3 million per. Chances are he'll want a little more than that, and if that's the case then you need to just walk away.

He's not just prime to see his production fall off a cliff, it seems like he already has. As such, tread carefully if looking to sign Radim Vrbata.