The prevailing opinion in the Caps organization seems to be that Jakub Vrana had an uneven 2016-17 season. The young forward had two stints in Washington, the first of which many thought was strong. However, his second time ended when he seemed to hit a wall. It’s hard to say whether Vrana did hit a wall or whether this was just a part of ups and downs that every player goes through over the course of the season.
The Caps are set to lose a lot of talent at forward this offseason. Vrana has a higher upside than any other player in the organization that may be asked to fill some of those spots next season. Because of this upside, it’d be smart for the Caps to give him a longer leash in 2017-18.
|11:07||time on ice per game|
|54.3||5-on-5 shot-attempt percentage, adjusted|
|64.1||5-on-5 goal percentage, adjusted|
About this visualization: This series of charts made by Micah Blake McCurdy of hockeyviz.com shows various metrics for the player over the course of the 2016-17 season. A short description of each chart:
There’s been plenty written about why Vrana may not be ready for a full-time role in DC next season. Troy Mann didn’t hide his criticism of what he perceived to be an uneven season for Vrana in Hershey. In his end of season remarks, Brian MacLellan seemed to express some doubt as to whether Vrana will be able to earn a spot on the Caps next season.
Honestly, all of the remarks about Vrana’s play, while maybe true, seem to fall back on the same generic criticisms of young, offensively gifted players. Their consistency and “200-foot game” is often questioned. Lack of size, physicality, and board play is sprinkled in sometimes too. I’m not suggesting that none of this is true or that it can’t be accurately applied to Vrana. But I am suggesting that sometimes talent evaluators seem to lose sight of the big picture when making these kind of critiques.
That bigger picture is, despite any flaws, real or perceived, whether Vrana can be a net-positive for the Caps. Forget the naysayers, let’s focus on the positive and take a look at why I think Vrana, if the Caps are patient with him, can be a net positive for the team next season:
There are definitely valid concerns about Vrana’s game. But there’s also plenty to like about the way he played during his brief time in DC last season. It would be nice if the team highlighted those things and gave him the chance to inject some skill into the forward group next season.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) December 10, 2016
What did you think about Vrana’s time in DC in 2016-17? What do you think next season has in store for him?
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