Jakub Vrana made the trip to DC as the Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings prepare to do battle at Capital One Arena on Tuesday night. Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde said on Monday that he was looking to get Vrana in the lineup for the game.
That’s officially happening now. Helene St. James reports that Filip Zadina is out and Vrana is in.
Vrana spoke about his memories from his time in DC and the prospect of playing his former team.
“Overall, we had a great group here,” Vrana said. “We obviously won the Cup. The most important thing is that we stick together as a team. We were like one family here. That brings the memories into the future.”
In parts of five seasons with the Capitals, Vrana tallied 157 total points (76g, 81a) and won a Stanley Cup with the team in 2018. Vrana opened the scoring for the Caps in the final game of the Stanley Cup Final against the Vegas Golden Knights.
But the fan favorite was pushed out of town in 2021 after conflicts with head coach Peter Laviolette. The current Capitals bench boss healthy-scratched and benched Vrana multiple times right before the trade. Laviolette said that he wanted a “higher level” and hoped to see Vrana be more competitive.
Brian MacLellan sent Vrana, veteran Richard Panik, and two draft picks (2021 first round and 2022 second round) to the Red Wings for Anthony Mantha, who, after two seasons in the district, has become one of Laviolette’s new favorite healthy scratches.
Vrana immediately took off like a rocket after the move away from the Caps, scoring 8 goals in his first 11 games with Detroit which included a career-best four-goal game. He was instantly one of the team’s leaders and was relied upon to play big minutes and provide offense — something that wasn’t the case most nights under Laviolette.
He has put away 22 goals in 39 career games for the Red Wings, ranking second (1.66) only to Auston Matthews (1.76) in 5v5 goals per 60 minutes since 2020-21.
“For me, the opportunity to play for the Red Wings is a lot different than in Washington,” Vrana said in August of 2021. “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.”
But it has been a bit of a roller coaster ride for Vrana in Detroit since. Vrana’s dealt with a serious shoulder injury, a long stint in the NHL’s player assistance program, a journey on the waiver wire, and 17 AHL games with the Grand Rapids Griffins to get him back up to speed.
In his last nine AHL games, Vrana recorded 10 points (6g, 4a). That performance led to the Red Wings recalling him back to the NHL level last week.
Tuesday will be his first game back at the top level since October 15 and he’s ready to get back to where he started with the Red Wings.
“It’s been some time,” Vrana said. “I’m really excited. Been training a lot. It’s gonna be nice to get the game going and get that game feel. I’m excited to go and do it again.”
Screenshot via Detroit Red Wings
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