Washington Capitals top prospect Jakub Vrana is set to return to Washington D.C. this Labor Day weekend. Before leaving the Czech Republic, Vrana met with media in his home town of Prague for an extended interview.
The following interview was transcribed and translated from the original interview conducted by Pavel Barta for iSport.
Pavel: A year ago, General Manager Brian MacLellan said you were a player to watch. This time, it looks like you’re going to get a good chance. What do you think?
Vrana: “Year after year, I get closer. I started at the farm (Hershey) last season and got a chance for twenty games (21 with the Capitals). This season I should come out. But I can not go there to get something for free. I have to fight for it, prove my game, what I can do on the ice. Perhaps I will come out and I will stay with the Capitals the whole season. “
Pavel: The Capitals dominated the regular season, but failed in the playoffs again. Do you think the departures of Justin Williams and Marcus Johansson have helped you?
Vrana: “Last season, Washington had a team of stars, was heavily loaded. It was a huge disappointment when they fell in second round against Pittsburgh. The mood was not the best, but it is hockey, another season is waiting for us. The team will look a little different. I think they both give more space, both Williams in Carolina and Marcus in New Jersey. It’s up to me to take the chances. We’ll see how the team will build. “
Pavel: TJ Oshie recently said the time has come for the younger players to step up . Have you noticed that?
Vrana: “It is a challenge. I’m really looking forward to getting a more important role. I want to show what I can do. And it’s not just about getting into the team but becoming one of the leaders. To score goals, to help out offensively, even on defense. “
Pavel: It is said that you could play next to Kuznetsov and Ovechkin. By his (Ovechkin’s) side, you debuted in the NHL. How was it?
Vrana: “I played with him for a few matches. It was great. Such an NHL hockey player is basically a legend, giving thirty or fifty goals each season. I want to go with him all year. And because I’m also a shooter, offensively, we could do well. “
Pavel: How do these players behave when you enter the clubhouse as a young prospect?
Vrana: “They take it professionally. We all belong to the same team. We all play hockey and respect each other. I think young people like To have the older players around. Nor should one be blown away by anyone he sees around.”
Pavel: And were you?
Vrana: “Not really. I know myself that I am a good player. And I would like to have a history like Ovechkin one day.
Pavel: Did you also experience some fun with him?
Vrana: “We flew to Tampa on my first match (away from Washington). I forgot my team bag of personal things at home. There is only one player on the team that does not take a bag on the trips, and when he needs something, he buys it. Ovechkin. We went from the airport and we were the only two players that did not have bags. They (Team) made fun of me, Ovechkin came and said, “You are learning well.”
Pavel: As a young player you can not afford everything …
Vrana: “That’s right. If younger people were not guided by these principles, they would certainly be able to feel what is right and not. But we are professionals, we know how to behave. On the other hand, we have the advice of the more experienced ones. Maybe in training and so on. We have a good team, as well as strict rules. And it does not matter if it’s just Ovechkin or someone else.
Pavel: There is probably not the same rate at all when Ovechkin or Kuznetsov make $ 10 million a year, while you make eight hundred thousand. It is so?
Vrana: “I paid about five hundred dollars for the first game. When we won, Ovechkin came and gave a thousand. We also had a common dinner, but otherwise the Russians and Swedes walked separately. I went with the Swedes a few times, sometimes with the Russians (laughing). But they are still talking to me in Russian. I do not know why. When I’m with them, they will not speak English. I do not know how to answer them. When I was playing with Kuznetsky, he spoke to me only in Russian. So I started answering him in Czech because I did not understand him. He was angry, he did not know what I was saying to him. ”
Pavel: So the lines they are predicting for you may not work as expected.
Vrana: (Sighing) “Not that way. I understand a little what he wants or what he means. I can not speak Russian, just a few words. They sometimes tried to mix it with Czech, and it was only horror. They always came and started: Dóbry, dóbry? Normal? “(Laughs).
Pavel: You were called up To the Capitals two times. The second time Burakovsky was gone (injured).
Vrana: “Yes. And for the first time when Oshie was injured. Up and down down to Hershey I went several times, I sat a few matches. It is especially demanding for the psyche. They are calling you, then you are waiting for them to send you back or not. The player in such a situation does not know what to think. If he’s doing something wrong or if they do it to keep up with the salary ceiling. ”
Pavel: What about the farm (Hershey)?
Vrana: “I was not very happy with the play off. I suffered a lighter jolt of the brain, it happened in the first match of the second round. I did not spend much time before. I was away from the end of November, then in March. When I compare it, last year I was three months off due to a hand injury but I had a place In Hershey. Once the player is constantly playing, it is a little more complicated. The coach wants to have forwards somehow prepared to make some chemistry between the boys. “
Pavel: When we talked about David Pastrnak, are you still in touch?
Vrana: “We trained together this summer. We played against each other when Boston arrived in Washington. We wrote, but it was different before. We lived together in Sweden.”
Pavel: Your goalie in Hershey was Vítek Vaněček. Does he have a chance to get into the NHL?
Vrana: “I think so. As a newcomer he performed great. At his age, most of the goalies do not even play at the farm. He got that chance. Once he was even announced in the AHL player of the week. Goalies have it a bit slower, the competition is strong: Holtby, Grubauer, in the backup and Samson and Copley coming up. But Vanecek has it. We are brothers. I lived with him In Hershey, we were doing everything together.
You can read the full interview here: