Looking at each shift of Jakub Vrana's return to the NHL
The Red Wings forward played his first NHL game since October.
Jakub Vrana returned to an NHL lineup last night for the first time since October.
In between Vrana entered and exited the NHL/NHLPA player assistant program, was sent to the AHL for a conditioning stint, was waived and cleared, and then eventually recalled by Detroit before being healthy scratched.
Vrana is making $5.25 million against the salary cap this season and next, and his future in Detroit has been murky this season. The Red Wings were ready to move on when they waived him, and still may be ready to move on, but as Detroit pushes for a potential playoff spot, Vrana is at least getting a chance to prove he belongs in the lineup.
In Tuesday’s 3-1 win against the Washington Capitals, Vrana had a pair of shots in 11 minutes, 31 seconds of ice time primarily on a line with Joe Veleno and Robby Fabbri.
I went back and watched each of his shifts on Wednesday morning to get a better look at his overall game after the return from Grand Rapids.
Shift 1: Pretty mild shift that starts with a center ice face-off and Detroit eventually establishing extended zone time in the Washington zone.
Vrana got a couple touches, felt the puck in an NHL game for the first time in months.
Most importantly he was effective reading lanes and helping on the forecheck. About halfway through the shift he extends Detroit’s zone time by about 20 seconds when he forces a turnover here and wins the puck back in the corner.
Shift 2: This was a 15-second shift, where the play was effectively killed by Ville Husso freezing a puck he misplayed off the end boards. Nothing burger of a shift.
Shift 3: Another quick shift, 23 seconds, but it’s an effective one.
Vrana wins the battle along the wall on a 50-50 puck and sets up a clean breakout and transition for Detroit with a simple pass.
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