When the Capitals spent 2014’s 13th overall draft pick on Right Winger Jakub Vrana, they knew they were getting a dedicated hockey player. He moved away from his family and the Czech Republic when he was only 15 years old to take advantage of an opportunity to further develop his craft in Sweden (now that’s dedication.) Now he’s 19 years old and looking to open his next hockey season in the NHL.
Vrana has suited up for Czech Republic at the World Junior Championship (WJC) for four consecutive years (U17,U18 and U20.) His career totals in WJC are 43 games played with 22 goals, 10 assists and 24 PIMs. He helped the U18 team win Silver in 2014 when in seven games he had 8 goals and 2 assists.
The last two seasons (2013-14 and 2014-15) Vrana has suited up for Linkoping of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL.) Keep in mind the SHL is highly skilled, men’s pro hockey. In his first season (only 17 years old), Vrana scored 2 goals and had an assist in 24 games played and added a goal, an assist and 6 PIMS in 14 playoff games. But the following season (18 years old), Vrana embraced his role as a top-six forward and very much excelled in it. Playing in 44 games, he registered 12 goals, 12 assists and 12 PIMs. Plus in 11 playoff games he registered 4 goals and an assist. I wish we were able to add the amount of times he rung the iron or made a trick pass to a teammate who couldn’t finish.
After his SHL team’s season ended, Vrana was called to the Hershey Bears and was asked to make a quick adjustment to the smaller North American ice. In just three regular season games with the Bears, he managed 5 assists. In the AHL playoffs, he stayed hot and scored 2 goals and 4 assists in 10 games.
Now Vrana will try and take advantage of both the Capitals Development and Training Camps, to showcase his talents. We all know another 19 year old (Burry!) that accomplished that feat last offseason. Vrana has the speed and the offensive skill set needed to be a scorer, but he’ll need to improve his defensive game and prepare himself for the physicality the NHL brings. Something else to keep in mind is how Brian Maclellan spends money in Free Agency this offseason, could have something to do with Vrana’s chances of making the opening day roster. Either way he’ll be playing hockey in North America in the 2015-16 season and that in itself is quite exciting. Good Luck Vrana!
Just For Fun: Vrana’s family name means “Crow” in Czech so somehow
he ended up with the nickname “Raven”. Can’t wait to scream that a few times at Verizon!
By: Zach Hart