Jakub Vrana‘s 2019-20 was another step towards superstardom, but he’s still scoring from the shadow of Ovechkin.
|14.9||time on ice per game|
|51.3||5-on-5 shot-attempt percentage, adjusted|
|51.7||5-on-5 expected goal percentage, adjusted|
|53.7||5-on-5 goal percentage, adjusted|
About this visualization: This series of charts made by Micah Blake McCurdy of hockeyviz.com shows lots of information for the player over the season. A short description of each chart:
Let’s start with the bad part, because there’s not a lot of it. Jakub Vrana was point-less in the playoffs. But that wasn’t unique to Jake; the whole of the Caps (aside from maybe Ovechkin, Oshie, and Kuznetsov) had disappointing postseasons, and clearly there was something going on system-wide. Zero points in five games. The distinction is that Vrana similarly disappeared from 2019’s Carolina series — zero points in seven games. I’d hate for the fella to get a reputation as a playoff vanishing act, but he’ll have to wait a while to disprove it.
Smash cut to the regular season, where Vrana’s development continues brilliantly. Vrana nipped at his 2019 point totals despite playing 13 fewer games. His individual goal and point rates went up during five-on-five despite a minor drop in individual shooting percentage. His individual shot rate continues to climb — he’s now the tenth most prolific shooter in the league.
Vrana is poised to have a career year in his age-24 season, which is unfortunate for two stupid reasons. First is that the Capitals aren’t finding enough ice time for him as he’s stuck below Ovechkin on the depth chart and not usually part of the first power-play unit. The Caps won’t be able to fully exploit the peak years of a special player unless they make space for him. Second is that Vrana will enter the last year of his $3.35-million bridge deal, which was a blunder for the team at the time in the form of a timebomb that won’t go off until the team’s two best scorers both see their contracts expire at the same time. The good news is that Vrana’s expiration status will be restricted, but I can see quite a bit of hardship in getting a gem like him under the long-term deal he’ll command with another season as strong as the two he just put up.
But those are problems for next season (whenever that will be). For now, the Caps have a special boy on their hands, and they need to protect him.
There’s a lot of goal highlights here. Click through for some good neurotransmitters.
What do you think Vrana’s next deal looks like? Do you think the Caps can make room for him? How would you like to see the Caps accommodate him on the ice next season?
Read more: Japers Rink
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