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Tampa Bay Lightning trades Radim Vrbata to Phoenix Coyotes

Radim Vrbata, who signed a three-year deal last season, played just 18 games for the Lightning.

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Radim Vrbata, who signed a three-year deal last season, played just 18 games for the Lightning.

In the end, trading Radim Vrbata to the Coyotes was about money.

The Lightning got rid of a $6 million obligation the next two seasons, and by getting rugged left wing Todd Fedoruk, it acquired the bottom-six player it has wanted.

"He skates well enough to be able to jump around and give you third-line minutes," Lightning general manager Brian Lawton said Tuesday.

David Hale also came in the deal, but the underachieving defenseman seemed more like the price Tampa Bay had to pay for Phoenix's willingness to take Vrbata's contract, and his future with the team is unclear.

So, let's do the math.

Fedoruk, 30, a 6-foot-2, 240-pound former brawler who had six goals, 13 points and 72 penalty minutes in 72 games last season, has two years left on a contract that will pay $2.175 million; $1.05 million next season. Hale, 28, gets $725,000 next season in the last year of his deal.

Add it all up and the Lightning is $3.1 million ahead the next two years, not bad for an organization still looking for a bargain among the remaining top-six free agent forwards.

Tampa Bay also avoids paying Vrbata $3 million next season to play for AHL Norfolk, and the right wing returns to the team with which he scored 27 goals in 2007-08 before signing a three-year, $9 million free agent contract with the Lightning.

It has been a grueling year for Vrbata, 28, who had just three goals and six points in 18 games for Tampa Bay before returning to play in his native Czech Republic because of his wife's difficult pregnancy, agent Rich Evans said.

Out of the Lightning's plans, Lawton said Vrbata would play for Norfolk if a trade could not be worked out, and he gave Evans permission to look for a trade.

"We always zeroed in on Phoenix," said Evans, who said the Coyotes wanted Vrbata to work with their younger players, and added his client "has no ill will toward the Lightning."

Around the league

BLUE JACKETS: First-round pick John Moore, a defenseman selected No. 21 overall, signed a three-year entry level contract.

CANADIENS: Center Tomas Plekanec re-signed for one year.

FLAMES: Forward Nigel Dawes signed days after the team picked him up off of waivers.

PENGUINS: Brent Johnson signed as the backup goaltender to Marc-Andre Fleury.

PUTIN'S HOPES: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says he hopes the Kontinental Hockey League will expand to include central and western Europe. The KHL includes teams from Russia and former Soviet republics Belarus, Latvia and Kazakhstan.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at Times wires contributed to this report.

Tampa Bay Lightning trades Radim Vrbata to Phoenix Coyotes 07/21/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 6:42am]
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