Jakub Vrana had a breakout season in 2017-18 …when he was given the chance.
|12.5||time on ice per game|
|50.3||5-on-5 shot-attempt percentage, adjusted|
|51.9||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 season. A short description of each chart:
Jakub Vrana did not get injured in 2017-18, so if you’re looking to figure out why he played just 73 games, look elsewhere. There was something about Vrana’s play that former coach Barry Trotz did not like (e.g. “participation mode”), resulting in nine scratches in the regular season and one more in the playoffs.
A disclaimer: hockey players play too much. The season is too long, and rest is too rare. Coaches should use scratches more liberally to give players time to reset. But this is not that. Even when Vrana did get a jersey, he played a fourth-line volume of ice time – minutes below what similar players (Eller, Burakovsky) got. Basically: Trotz didn’t like Vrana’s game.
I can see why.
Just kidding, no, I can’t. Vrana is a special player. No Caps forward made a higher rate of chances from high-danger areas than Vrana, including Ovi. Vrana’s scoring chance rate was second only to Ovi. His overall attempt volume was third behind Ovi and Eller (and went up to second in the playoffs). He had the fifth highest goal rate despite having the 10th best shooting percentage.
Here, per hockeyviz, are where Vrana’s shot attempts came from, i.e. the goal mouth.
And here is how the Caps’ overall shot attempts compared to league average during Vrana’s shifts.
Two times that Trotz gave Vrana a chance — late November and in the playoffs –- Vrana raged, maybe saving his coach’s job (and future job) in the process. What new coach Todd Reirden sees in Vrana and how he will accommodate that vision is an open question. There’s a bit of a blockade in the top six right now, but when a player produces like a top-six forward despite bottom-line minutes, a team oughtta make space.
How does the team navigate its top-six winger blockade in order to activate Vrana? What players would you most like to see Vrana play with? What about Vrana’s game makes him so effective despite limited opportunities?
Read more: Japers’ Rink
Headline photo: Cara Bahniuk
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.