After a tumultuous several months which included entering the player assistance program and afterward being sent to the American Hockey League (AHL), Jakub Vrana will suit up for the Detroit Red Wings tonight in a game against his former team in the Washington Capitals.
Vrana, 26, had been rumored to have been done with the Red Wings, as reports swirled that they were ready to move on from him. However, they chose to recall him from the AHL a week ago, and are set to give him another opportunity. During his 17 game stint with the Grand Rapids Griffins he scored six goals and 11 points.
It is great to see that the Red Wings and Vrana were able to, at least for now, repair their relationship, as the Czech forward is extremely talented. Though injuries have hampered him plenty in recent seasons, he has managed 22 goals and 32 points in 39 career games with the Red Wings. He was acquired by Steve Yzerman during the 2020-21 season in a deal with saw Anthony Mantha head to the Capitals.
When speaking with media on Tuesday morning to confirm that Vrana is indeed playing, Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde said that Filip Zadina will be coming out to make room for him. Much like it has been for Vrana, it has been a trying season for Zadina, who has appeared in just 15 games, scoring a goal and three points. The 23-year-old has largely struggled to live up to the expectations placed on his shoulders when selected sixth overall back at the 2018 draft.
While Vrana will certainly be motivated in his own right for tonight’s contest, his entire team will be as well. They currently sit just four points shy of the Florida Panthers for the final wild card position in the Eastern Conference, while possessing five games in hand. The Capitals are right in that race as well, as they sit just two points back of the Panthers while having two games of their own in hand.
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