Ryan Miller was the splash signing while Radim Vrbata was considered a low-risk depth signing. However, when the team got off to a slow start offensively, Vrbata was the one constant and he continues to make important contributions that have propelled the Canucks to an 18-10-2 record. Vrbata has been the team’s MVP through 30 games.
Many critics suggested that Vrbata would struggle moving away from his comfort zone in Arizona. That thought was quickly dismissed with him finding ways to score. He leads the team with 12 goals, which is four more than those tied for second, Nick Bonino and Jannik Hansen. Daniel and Henrik Sedin have 26 points, which is three more than Vrbata. Vrbata has 11 of his 23 points on the power play.
Looking into the stats a bit closer shows that Vrbata has been clutch. He has contributed eight goals, 15 total points and a +6 rating on the road. He has two game-winning goals on the year. He has also scored four times when the game was tied. Also, 10 of his goals have come in the last two periods. Vrbata has also averaged a minute more on the ice in the team’s wins.
Coach Willie Desjardins has been keeping the former Arizona Coyotes winger active with plenty of ice time starring on the first line for much of the season. He was dropped down momentarily, but he continued to score. Of the team’s forwards, Vrbata has the third-most ice time behind the Sedin twins. He is averaging over 21 shifts per game.
Vrbata has cooled off a bit in December and the team is currently on a two-game losing streak. However, they are still in the playoff race in the highly contested Western Conference. They may not be there if Vrbata would have struggled.