With the 2018-19 season on the horizon, another veteran forward without a contract has announced he’s hanging up his skates. Radim Vrbata has officially retired today, pushing out a statement through his agent Rich Evans.
Unlike fellow veteran Scott Hartnell, who also announced his retirement today, Vrbata was never expected to do much in the NHL. Where Hartnell was all the rage coming out of junior and ended up selected sixth overall, Vrbata was undersized and seen as a perimeter player that may not translate fine offensive success to the next level. Vrbata fell all the way to 212th overall in the 1999 draft, where Colorado picked him in the seventh round. That draft status wouldn’t hold him down though, as he finishes his career with the fourth-most games played and points from that draft class — just behind another seventh-round pick named Henrik Zetterberg.
It didn’t take long for the Avalanche to realize they’d found something unexpected at the end of the draft, as Vrbata would put up 120 points in just 55 games during his final season in the QMJHL in 2000-01 before making the jump to the NHL on a full-time basis during the 2001-02 campaign. He scored 18 goals and 30 points in 52 contests for Colorado that year and would continue to be an offensive threat throughout the rest of his career. With a high of 63 points for the Vancouver Canucks in 2014-15, Vrbata finishes his career with 623 points in 1,057 games and 12th all time among Czech-born players.