GLENDALE, Ariz. — Center Brad Richardson had three screws removed from his surgically-repaired right leg recently; one below the knee, the other two near the ankle.
“That kind of loosens things and makes it feel like it’s a normal leg again,” said Richardson, who suffered a broken right tibia and fibula on Nov. 17 at Vancouver after a hit from defenseman Nikita Tryamkin. “I’m feeling quite a bit better.”
Richardson still has a rod in his leg that will remain forever, meaning metal detectors are still iffy.
“It’s only went off once, the metal detector,” Richardson said, laughing. “I don’t know how that is. The system’s a little flawed.”
Doctors told Richardson he was probably out for the season when the injury occurred, but they told him to rehab like he was coming back. Richardson hoped to play the last 10 games of the season, but he couldn’t stack several days of workouts and skating on top of each other without the knee experiencing painful tendinitis, so he shut it down last week.
“Some days I felt really good; other days I could honestly barely skate,” said Richardson, who had five goals and nine points in 16 games before the injury. “It definitely sucked. I had a great start to the year and wanted to really be a leader for this team.”
Richardson said his training won’t look any different this summer, other than starting to skate a little earlier to make sure he doesn’t have any rust.
“As long as I can get my normal training in I’m confident I’ll come back and be the same player,” he said. “Hopefully, the work I put in over the summer makes me a better player.”
While it’s still a good bet to assume right winger Radim Vrbata will return for another season with the Coyotes, general manager John Chayka acknowledged that the decision will hinge on what else the Coyotes do this summer.
“Absolutely, it does,” Chayka said. “He’s our leading scorer (20 goals, 55 points), good attitude, good person, good with the young guys. There’s nothing negative whatsoever to say about him. It’s just that same question of how do we get better and is he a part of getting better? There’s a good chance that that could be the case.”
Vrbata said there is no rush to get a deal done, although he would prefer it not go as long as last summer when he signed his incentive-laden, one-year deal on Aug. 15. If he does re-sign, he said it would be a one-year deal.
“If I sign here next year and I have as good a season again then we talk about it again,” said Vrbata, who missed one game this season with a lower-abdomen injury. “But I don’t want to be in a situation where I sign a two-year deal and next year I’m terrible and then the next year they’re looking for ways to get rid of me.”
If the Coyotes do not want him this summer, Vrbata said he would listen to other teams if the situation were right, or he might retire of he couldn’t find a good situation.
Right winger Anthony Duclair admits that puck luck played a role in him not matching last season’s 20-goal rookie season. Think back over the season and you can probably remember half a dozen chances that were an inch away from becoming Duclair goals.
“Sometimes I was shaking my head thinking, ‘how does that not go in?'” Duclair said.
At the same time, Duclair doesn’t want to chalk it all up to bad luck, and he doesn’t want to forget this season.
“I don’t want to put it all under the rug,” said Duclair, who said he must generate more shots. “I’ve got to learn from this experience. I don’t want to turn the sheet right away. I really need to focus on what I can do to make this team better. They relied on me heavy at the beginning of the year and I didn’t give what I was capable of doing. That’s on me.”
— Defenseman Connor Murphy (USA), center Christian Dvorak (USA) and left winger Tobias Rieder (Germany) expect to play in the World Championships, May 5-21 in Cologne, Germany and Paris.
— Chayka said he expects to have discussions with ownership over the next couple weeks about his spending budget, but he may not have that budget until the ownership situation shakes out. Majority owner Andrew Barroway is currently exploring buying out the minority owners, with a June 6 deadline in place.
— The Coyotes have three unrestricted free agents on the roster and six restricted free agents. The UFAs are Shane Doan, Radim Vrbata and Zbynek Michalek. The RFAs are Jordan Martinook, Duclair, Alex Burmistrov, Josh Jooris, Teemu Pulkkinen and Peter Holland.
Doan has not decided whether he will retire, but the Coyotes do not intend to re-sign Zbynek Michalek.
Arizona intends to re-sign Martinook and Duclair. Burmistrov’s future is uncertain and will depend on whether the Coyotes can acquire a center this summer. Jooris, Pulkkinen and Holland are unlikely to return.
— Here are the NHL Draft Lottery chances for each team to land the No. 1 pick in the June NHL Draft in Chicago. You can find full odds at www.tankathon.com.
New Jersey: 8.5%
Los Angeles: 4.5%
Tampa Bay: 1.8%
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