Lightning Reassign C Chris Gratton, RW Radim Vrbata
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have reassigned center Chris Gratton to Norfolk of the American Hockey League and right wing Radim Vrbata to BK Mlada Boleslav of the Czech Extraliga, it was announced by Executive Vice President & General Manager Brian Lawton.
Gratton, a 6-foot-4, 226-pound native of Brantford, Ontario, skated in 18 games with the Lightning this season, recording two assists and 10 penalty minutes. He played in 60 games with the Lightning last season, recording 10 goals, 21 points, one power-play goal and one game-winning goal while battling a hip injury. The 33-year-old has played in 482 career games during three stints with Tampa Bay, recording 98 goals, 161 assists and 259 points. Gratton ranks seventh on the franchise list in games played, goals, assists and points, and is first in penalty minutes.
The 16-year NHL veteran has played in 1,086 career games with Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Phoenix, Colorado and Florida. He has 214 career goals and 567 points with 1,636 penalty minutes. During his career, Gratton has recorded seven seasons with 15 goals or more and 12 seasons with 10 goals or more. He also put together 10 seasons with 30 points or more. He has played in 40 career playoff games, recording eight goals and 15 points during his career. He made his first Stanley Cup Playoff appearance with Tampa Bay in 1996 and recorded two points. Gratton was the Lightning’s first-round choice, third overall, at the 1993 Entry Draft and served as Tampa Bay’s captain during the 1999-00 season.
Vrbata, 27, skated in 18 games with the Lightning this season, tallying three goals, three assists and eight penalty minutes. He 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.
Vrbata was drafted in the 7th round, 212th overall, by the Colorado Avalanche in 1999. A 6-1, 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.