Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
After the Capitals’ Stanley Cup win and Stanley Cup parade, the NHL season, in terms of game action and celebrating is officially over. In the coming weeks, teams will begin preparing for the offseason, including the NHL Entry Draft, Free Agency, and the contract decisions of players (and in the Capitals’ case, their coaches). In Capital Review, NoVa Caps will be taking a look at each player’s season, their contract status, and their outlook for next season, beginning in numerical order based on jersey number. Next up: Jakub Vrana.
Games Played: 73
Vrana finished his first full season in the NHL with 13 goals, 14 assists, and 27 points and showed flashes of his game-changing potential, often using his speed and puck-handling skills to create offensive opportunities for himself and his teammates. Vrana averaged 12:30 minutes of ice time a night for Head Coach Barry Trotz, and finished sixth on the team in shots with 133, and finishing the regular season with a 9.8 shooting percentage. Vrana also saw time on the Capitals’ second power play unit, averaging 0:40 seconds of ice time on the man-advantage; while that is relatively low considering the amount of time the first unit saw, it ranked 10th on the team in terms of average power play time during the regular season.
Vrana continued to impress in the postseason, in which he scored three goals and added five assists for eight points in 23 games played, averaging 11:56 minutes of ice time, with a plus-5 rating. He finished with 39 shots (seventh-most on the team) and finished with two game-winning goals, which ranked fifth on the team.
Status: One season remaining on Entry-Level contract
Money Left on Current Deal: $832,500 left in total salary
Free Agent: 2019, Restricted
Analysis: Given that Vrana just played his first full season in the NHL (and only 21 games in 2016-17), there is not much of a track record to definitively deem the contract a success or failure, however, Vrana’s performance this season and promising potential makes signing him to a new contract an indisputable no-brainer.
Still just 22-years old, Vrana is nowhere near the prime of his career, meaning he has the potential to grow and develop even more as a player next season, and it would not be surprising to see Vrana see more Top-six time and a few more power play looks. With no major members of the team’s top-six forwards projected to leave this summer, Vrana has a chance to cement himself as such and build on a promising rookie campaign. At least 15 goals and 30-40 points should not be ruled out for the Capitals’ most promising forward.
JAKUB VRANA HIGHLIGHT OF THE SEASON
By Michael Fleetwood