Photo: Washington Capitals
When one thinks of the Washington Capitals most notable players, the first players that usually come to mind are Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Evgeny Kuznetsov. While these stars are special talents, 22-year old Jakub Vrana is taking the steps needed to become the next Capitals star in the wings.
Selected by the Capitals with the 13th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, Vrana was a bit of an unknown player from the Czech Republic. He played in the Swedish Hockey League before signing his professional contract with the Capitals organization.
After spending three seasons in Hershey, Vrana finally cracked the Capitals 2017-18 opening night roster. In his first full season with the Capitals, he recorded 13 goals and 27 points in 73 games. He added 3 goals and 8 points in the Capitals Stanley Cup playoff run.
NEW SEASON, NEW PERSONAL GOALS
Fast forward to the 2018-19 regular season, and Vrana is elevating his game. Through the first 45 games, Vrana has recorded 15 goals and 25 points. His primary position with the team is on the Capitals second forward unit, alongside Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie. Vrana’s goal total ranks 2nd behind Alex Ovechkin, and his points total is 4th among Capitals forwards.
Vrana is averaging 14:14 time on ice per game, which is ranked 7th among Capitals forwards. Vrana receives some playing time on the Capitals 2nd powerplay unit.
BUILDING A COMPLETE GAME
Vrana is known for his tremendous speed and skill on the ice. He is a winger that competes hard for loose pucks. In addition to his great work ethic, he has an excellent release on his shot.
A knock on his game in previous seasons was his play away from the puck. Scouts questioned his defensive play, and his competitive drive without the puck on his stick.
Vrana’s defensive game has improved under Capitals Coach Todd Reirden. Vrana’s goal against the Ottawa Senators on December 22 is a great example of a defensive play turning into a goal.
A NEW CONTRACT IS COMING
Vrana is in the final season of his entry-level contract with the Capitals. There is no doubt both sides want to get a deal done.
The Capitals will likely prefer a deal with some term on it. It would not be surprising to see the Capitals want a 5-year deal for Vrana’s next contract. In regards to money, the Capitals will likely want Vrana to fall in the $3.5-5 million range per season.
Coming off a fresh Stanley Cup win, Vrana is in a good position with the club. He is well-liked by the Capitals players, coaches, and management. He is becoming a fan favorite, and Capitals fans will be excited to have him for more years to come.
By: George Foussekis