It’s almost the breakup of Michael Latta/Tom Wilson all over again, but at least for the two Czechs (Jakub Vrana and Vitek Vanecek), they are still technically teammates. Vrana was part of a three-player move by the Capitals today and is reporting to Washington. It is Vrana’s first recall to Washington, and while they will surely miss each other for as long as Vrana remains in Washington, they will eventually be reunited.
Vrana, a forward, is a native of Prague in the Czech Republic. He previously played in the Swedish Hockey League before being drafted #13 overall in the first round by the Washington Capitals in 2014. He joined the Bears that season, appearing in three regular season games and ten playoff games.
So far this season, Vrana and Christian Thomas lead the team with nine goals. His 16 points ranks only one point behind Chris Bourque and Travis Boyd so far this season.
But Vrana has had a bumpy road. After seeing action in 13 games for Hershey after being drafted, Vrana seemed poised for a terrific rookie season until he sustained a wrist injury last season that required surgery. In 36 regular season appearances before and after the injury, he recorded 16 goals and 18 assists. In 21 playoff games, he registered 8 goals and 6 assists. With 15 forwards on the roster this year, even Vrana was a healthy scratch once this season.
“For us it doesn’t matter if you’re a first round pick or a veteran guy, you come to play, but I felt that he responded this weekend with 4 or 5 points so it’s not all about points for him,” said Mann. “He’s got to compete he’s got to get to those traffic areas and win those small battles because those are the things that are going to get him to Washington full time. We’ve talked a little about it and we’ve felt that he’s responded the right way from that healthy scratch last week.”
Hershey’s VP of Hockey Operations and former assistant coach Bryan Helmer echoed those sentiments just a few weeks ago. “Jakub, he shows moments where you think that this kid’s going to play in the NHL for a long, long time, and then there are moments where you think that he has a lot more to learn down here and put a little seasoning on his game,” he said. “Skill-wise and shot-wise, I think he’s an NHL guy.”
Helmer noted that Vrana had a tough rookie camp and main camp with the Capitals, but said the Czech is a hard worker who just needed to add a little consistency to his game. While it remains to be seen if Vrana will rejoin the Bears, he surely has many in Hershey pulling for him, including his “brother” and teammate, Vitek Vanecek.
Just the Facts
|DOB||February 28, 1996|
Vrana’s First AHL Goal: May 1, 2015 at Giant Center against Worcester in Game 4 of the First Round of Calder Cup Playoffs
Vrana’s First AHL Point: April 14, 2015 at Lehigh Valley
Check out some of our previous articles on Jakub Vrana
Czech Mates – Jakub Vrana and Vitek Vanecek Share Special Bond – our interview with Jakub and Vitek
Getting to Know a Bear – Jakub Vrana – videos of Jakub Vrana
By Julie Beidler