Photo: Washington Capitals
Capitals forward Jakub Vrana showed flashes of his tremendous potential in his rookie season in 2017-18, recording 27 points in 73 games played in the team’s Stanley Cup-winning season. And his offensive talent has been on full display this season, continuing to show his potential as a future star in the NHL. Vrana has evolved into one of the Caps’ most prominent offensive weapons, and is on pace for a career season.
In the Capitals’ most recent game, a 5-3 losing effort against the Vegas Golden Knights in Sin City, Vrana added two goals to put his season total at eight in 27 games played, in addition to eight assists. With his current offensive output, the 22-year old Czech Republic native is on pace for a career-high 24 goals, 24 assists, and 48 points. Vrana’s success in his sophomore season has been buoyed by not only experience, but his increased confidence and an increase in playing time; through 27 games played, Vrana is averaging a career-high 14:24 of ice time a night for Head Coach Todd Reirden, an increase of just under two minutes from last season.
Of Vrana’s 16 points, all but one have come at even-strength, and his eight even-strength goals rank second on the team behind only captain Alex Ovechkin’s 13. Vrana also has an astounding 17.0 shooting percentage this season, a number that ranks fifth on the Capitals. While his offensive game has strengthened, Vrana’s defensive play has also aided in his strong showing through 27 games. His career-high of 16 blocked shots came last season and through 27 games, Vrana is already on pace to surpass that total with 14 thus far. The Capitals’ goaltenders have a .923 save percentage while Vrana is on the ice and he has been on the ice for just 14 goals against, compared to 24 goals for.
While it is still relatively early in the 2018-19 season, the strong showing from one of the future cornerstones of the franchise is an encouraging sign for not only Vrana’s development, but also that the Caps have yet another offensive (and potentially budding two-way) weapon to aid them in their quest to defend as Stanley Cup champions. The future for Jakub Vrana is an exciting one indeed.
By Michael Fleetwood