According to TSN, the Tampa Bay Lightning placed Radim Vrbata and Chris Gratton on waivers today.
Vrbata, citing a lack of confidence in his own game, asked to be placed on waivers in order to return home to finish his season in the Czech Republic.
According to Lightning owner Oren Koules, Vrbata “just wants to take the rest of the year off and try to get his game back over there.”
Vrbata is under contract through the 2010-2011 NHL season, earning $3 million per year. Koules did not dismiss the idea of Vrbata returning to the Lightning next season.
“If he wants to come back next season, great. That’s his call. This is all very amicable. He’s a great guy who’s really struggling right now.”
Vrbata’s departure could possibly open a full time roster spot for recently acquired right wing Steve Downie, who has played well in his four games with the club since being recalled from the Norfolk Admirals.
Vrbata is expected to clear waivers and return to the Czech Republic. Gratton, however, may draw interest from several teams looking for a capable checking line center.
Gratton, earning $1.25 million this year, is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.