The Detroit Red Wings placed forward Jakub Vrana on waivers Tuesday. Vrana had been in the AHL with the Grand Rapids Griffins for a three-game conditioning stint following his return to Detroit’s active roster after entering the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program in mid-October.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman first announced the news on Twitter.
Vrana is on waivers today
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) January 3, 2023
In his three-game stint for the Griffins, Vrana recorded zero points, fired nine shots total on net, and was a minus-5. Seven of those nine shots came in his last game for the Griffins on New Year’s Eve. Vrana had two points (1g, 1a) for the Red Wings earlier in the season.
The current waiver order in the league to vie for his services looks like this.
Waiver order for Jan 3, the Jakub Vrána sweepstakes
chi ana cbj s.j
ari mtl phi fla
van stl ott nsh
buf edm det cgy
col nyi pit l.a
sea wsh nyr min
wpg n.j t.b vgk
dal tor car bos
— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) January 3, 2023
Vrana holds a $5.25 million cap hit for this year and the next. As of right now, only the Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres, Arizona Coyotes, Ottawa Senators, and Minnesota Wild have the available cap space to claim Vrana outright without needing to use LTIR space or clear any room to do so.
The list lengthens to include the Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils, and St. Louis Blues if LTIR space is taken into consideration. If Vrana goes unclaimed, he would be outrighted to the AHL where he’d have to earn a call-up back to Detroit.
Earlier in the day, the Red Wings announced that Vrana’s conditioning stint would be extended for a full two weeks, meaning he’d play in three more AHL games, before opting to go in another direction and put the Czech star on waivers.
Before being dealt to Detroit in a trade that saw Anthony Mantha come to DC, Vrana had trouble staying in the Capitals lineup under head coaches Barry Trotz and Peter Laviolette. His compete level was directly questioned by Laviolette after multiple healthy scratches in April of 2021.
“He was a good young player,” Caps general manager Brian MacLellan said in a press conference after the trade was initially announced. “We won a Cup. He’s a part of it. He’s a nice person. Highly skilled. Great speed. I think part of it was Jakub’s a little frustrated where he’s at here in the organization. Probably wants some more ice time. Wants more responsibility. There was a tug of war between coaching staff and staffs that have had him and the way he was playing. I think we had a frustrated player and we tried to move on from that.”
Things seemed to have improved for Vrana in Detroit as he was a regular contributor on a very young, rebuilding team. He scored four goals in a game in just his fourth game as a member of the team and then re-signed with Detroit to a three-year contract the following offseason.
“For me, the opportunity to play for the Red Wings is a lot different than in Washington,” Vrana said after signing that contract. “I get more ice time, you know. My role has changed a little bit. I’m looking forward to prove what I can do and show my potential.
“When you go through something like that (Capitals trade), you don’t really know what to expect,” he continued. “Everything went kind of quick. From Day 1, everyone was really kind and helped me fit in. I just went there and finished the season and tried to show what I can do. Obviously, this team has great potential and bright future. Like I said before, I’m really happy to join this group. Things are where they are right now but I’m looking forward to building something.”
It appears things may have soured. Vrana’s personal Instagram page currently shows only photos from his time with the Washington Capitals and SHL team, Linkoping. Jakub Vrana superfan, @molfully on Twitter, tells RMNB that Vrana deleted one Red Wings post when he first entered the Players Assistance Program and deleted a Detroit location tag on his latest post from September.
If Vrana’s time in Detroit is truly done, he will leave after scoring 22 goals in 39 games played for the Wings. His final goal for the club will have come against his close friend Vitek Vanecek when Detroit and New Jersey squared off earlier this season.
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