Alex Brandon/Associated Press
Entering the 2017-18 season, one of the question marks for the Capitals was how the multiple rookies on the Opening Night roster would fare over the course of the season. One of the several rookies who have played the entire season with the club is the team’s former first-round draft pick (13th overall in 2014) Jakub Vrana. And after a promising rookie season, Vrana’s performance in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs has put his potential in the spotlight.
In 73 regular season games played, Vrana scored 13 goals and added 14 assists for a respectable 27 points, with a plus-2 rating. But it has been Vrana’s showing in the Capitals’ run to the Eastern Conference Finals that has given fans (and the team) an insight into the explosive offensive player Vrana can be. In 14 games played, Vrana has scored twice and added four assists for a respectable six points, all while averaging 11:07 of ice time a game. While six points isn’t eye-popping, Vrana has two game-winning goals for the Capitals and is tied for 10th on the team in postseason scoring. His two game-winning goals ties him for the team lead with center Lars Eller, and his 11:07 of ice time ranks 19th among skaters.
But what has truly been promising about Vrana’s postseason performance has been his utilization of his speed and creativity while in possession of the puck. There have been numerous times throughout the Caps’ playoff run that Vrana has found himself behind the opposition’s defense or creating an odd-man rush for his team. While the offensive totals don’t reflect it, Vrana’s hockey sense is also impressive for a player playing in his first playoff season. Still just 22-years old, Vrana has not yet reached the prime of his NHL career, and given how well he has played this spring, that means nothing but good things for the Capitals moving forward. Along with the team’s other young players, Vrana could form the next wave of superstars in Red, White, and Blue.
By Michael Fleetwood