A suitable contract with sufficient term, style of play and projected linemates was to determine whether unrestricted free agent winger Radim Vrbata would choose the Canucks or other serious suitors — like the Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, San Jose Sharks — this week.
He chose Vancouver.
Vrbata received a two-year, $10 million US deal from the Canucks on Wednesday, and it’s a win-win situation. The player gets a boost from his expiring $3-million deal with Arizona and the Canucks get the bridge contract they needed so younger players can eventually transition into the lineup.
To be at his best, the former 35-goal scorer will need instant chemistry with a playmaker
, because if there’s not a comfort level, his consistency will wane and he didn’t score in his last dozen outings in the 2013-14 season. Then again, he’s sneaky and streaky and had four goals in a four-game span.
That’s why the 33-year-old Czech Republic native became one of the first to be pursued heavily in the secondary free-agent market. He could score 30 goals next season. He could score 20 like he did last season, with half of those coming on the fourth-rated power play. Give him a savvy setup linemate like he had in like Ray Whitney, and it could be interesting.
However, the Canucks don’t have that proven veteran passing presence on their projected second line, although 20 of the 49 points centre Nick Bonino collected with the Anaheim Ducks last season were on the power play.