The Washington Capitals had one of the most memorable years in franchise history. There were many magical moments over the last year of winning the Stanley Cup. While 2019 was cut a little bit short in the postseason, the Capitals saw the growth of many players in their lineup over the last year. One of the players that progressed for the Capitals during the regular season was forward Jakub Vrana.
Vrana, 23, was a first-round pick of the Capitals back in 2014. He has worked his way up through the minors, and is now finishing his entry-level contract. Vrana finished with 24 goals and 47 points in the 2018-19 regular season.
WHAT DOES VRANA BRING TO THE CAPITALS?
Over the course of the regular season, Vrana took his game to the next level. He was a regular in the Capitals top-six forward group.
Vrana brings plenty of speed and finish to the Capitals lineup. Here are some of his highlights from the regular season:
Vrana is a highly skilled player that is not afraid to take the puck hard to the front of the net. He finished fifth among all Capitals forwards with 161 shots on goal during the regular season. In addition to his good shot production, Vrana was utilized on the Capitals second powerplay unit.
The following player comparisons to Jakub Vrana are based on similar age, cap hit, and point totals from the regular season:
ANTHONY MANTHA (DET): 24 years old, $3.3 million cap hit, 48 points
VIKTOR ARVIDSSON (NSH): 26 years old, $4.25 million cap hit, 48 points
ALEX TUCH (VGK): 22 years old, $4.75 million cap hit, 52 points
JONATHAN DROUIN (MTL): 24 years old, $5.5 million cap hit, 53 points
MONEY AND TERM NUMBERS
The Washington Capitals have a lot of money tied to the salary cap over the next few years. In addition to Vrana, Braden Holtby and Nicklas Backstrom are due for some big extensions coming up.
The Capitals are likely going to keep this core group together in hopes for additional Stanley Cup runs. Vrana is a young important piece to the Capitals group, and the Capitals will likely want to get him locked up long-term.
The term ranges for the contracts in Vrana’s player comparables range from 2-7 years. The cap hit ranges in these deals range from $3.3 million to $5.5 million.
Speculating on a contract is challenging, but the Capitals will likely offer him 5-7 years in term. It is safe to say that his contract will likely be in the $4-5.5 cap hit range per season.
While the contract could be on the high end right now, the NHL’s salary cap has shown a trend of rising every season. It is estimated that the NHL’s maximum salary cap will be at $83 million next season, up from $79.5 million this season. If the salary cap continues to rise over the next few years, Vrana’s contract will likely not look as high a few years down the road.
The Capitals will likely offer a longer-term deal in hopes to buy up some of Vrana’s unrestricted free agent years in the future. In addition to buying up free agency term, the Capitals will be planning for the next NHL expansion draft in 2021.
In a tough salary cap world, every penny spent in player contracts is managed carefully. The Capitals have a tricky contract negotiation with Vrana, but the Capitals have done a good job managing the salary cap over the last few years. Vrana is an important piece to the Capitals puzzle moving forward, and he has certainly earned what will be coming to him in the coming months.
RFA Jakub Varna’s new contract will be for an AAV of:
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) May 5, 2019
by George Foussekis
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Jake is one of the good ones. Perpetually healthy and actually improves from year to year. Compares favorably to many dozens of one-hit-wonder Caps’ forwards over the years who deliver exactly one good season
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