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‘Yotes talking extension with Vrbata, got ‘great value’ on current deal

Sep 10, 2013, 10:43 AM EDT

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Radim Vrbata Getty Images

The Phoenix Coyotes have entered contract extension talks with forward Radim Vrbata and, based on GM Don Maloney’s statement, Vrbata should be in line for a tidy raise.

“He’s been a very good player for us and we’ve had great value for what we’re paying him,” Maloney told Fox Sports Arizona. “I feel like we’re always fair in our contracts — my idea of fair and other camps’ idea may be different — but when you look at his numbers, he’s probably earned more.”

Vrbata, 32, is in the final year of a three-year, $9 million deal with an average annual value of $3 million. While Maloney’s assertion is rare for a GM — who openly admits he got a steal of a deal? — it ultimately rings true.

The skillful Czech finished second on the team in scoring last year, with 28 points, and finished 11th in the NHL in goalscoring in 2011-12, with 35.

(To put that number in perspective, it was more goals scored than Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan and John Tavares).

Vrbata’s goals were crucial scores as well. He tied Tampa Bay’s Steve Stamkos for the league lead in game-winners (12), pushing Phoenix to its first-ever Pacific Division championship.

Vrbata sounds as though he wants to stay in Phoenix and, after briefly leaving the organization to sign in Tampa for the 2008-09 season, realizes the desert is a good fit for him.

“Phoenix is the place where I’ve had the most success, where we like it as a family and where I like it as a hockey player,” Vrbata explained. “All the people around the team, Tip, Don, Shane (Doan) and the players, they make it a great situation for me.

“I wanted to be here even when the ownership situation was in limbo. With this new ownership group in place, it makes it even more appealing.”

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