The Phoenix Coyotes may not have had much to play for in their season finale against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night, but that didn’t stop the team from putting forth a great effort and earning a 5-3 win. Jason LaBarbera turned in an excellent performance (43 saves) in net, but the first star of the night was without question Radim Vrbata, who had a hat trick to cap off what has been a pretty solid season. After his 35-goal, 62-point 2011-12 season, he has shown a consistent ability to be one of the Coyotes’ top offensive threats.
Vrbata had an assist to go with his three goals, and those four points give him 28 for the season. That puts him second to Keith Yandle in team scoring, and his 12 goals were more than any other Coyotes players except captain Shane Doan (13) and Antoine Vermette (13). Vrbata has scored 117 of his 195 career goals while playing in Phoenix, and he will back next year for the final season of his current contract.
This season saw Vrbata again be a valuable asset on special teams, as he chipped in a team-leading 12 power play points and scored one of the Coyotes’ two shorthanded goals this season. That shorthanded goal proved to be the game-winner on Saturday night, as the Coyotes were at least able to walk out of the arena with their heads held high.
With just the one season left on his contract, the Coyotes need to make Vrbata a top priority for an extension before next season. They need to worry about goaltender Mike Smith first, but after that start making sure they have the offense in place to make things easier for him.