“In Radim, we are thrilled to add another quality person to our roster, helping us raise our scoring capabilities,” said Koules and Barrie in making the announcement. “He is a high-end talent and a quality person who will play amongst our core group of forwards and make the Lightning a harder team to defend against night in and night out.”
Vrbata, 27, enjoyed a breakthrough season in Phoenix in 2007-08, setting career highs and finishing as the Coyotes’ second-leading scorer with 27 goals and 56 points in 76 games. He also led the Coyotes in shorthanded goals (3) and ranked tied for third in power-play goals (7). Following the season he enjoyed a strong tournament at the 2008 World Championships, tying for second on the Czech Republic with five goals in seven games.
Vrbata was drafted in the 7th round, 212th overall, by the Colorado Avalanche in 1999. A 6-foot-1, 190-pound native of Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic, Vrbata made a strong NHL debut with Colorado in 2001-02, tallying 18 goals and 30 points in 50 games as a 20-year-old. He played one more season in Colorado before a trade to Carolina, where he appeared in 106 games during parts of three seasons. He joined Chicago during the 2005-06 season and was traded to Phoenix prior to last season.
Vrbata played three seasons (1998-99 through 2000-01) with Hull and Shawinigan in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League before turning pro, tallying 107 goals and 254 points in 167 games.