Tough news out of today’s announcements:
Vrána, the 25-year old winger acquired in last season’s Anthony Mantha trade and who quickly established himself as Detroit’s best finisher just started a three-year bridge out of restricted free agency at an AAV of $5.25M.
The “at least four months” timeline brings Vrána back close to the Olympic break and with about a month before the NHL trade deadline (March 21st). Without him, it’s even tougher to pretend the Wings will realistically be buyers, but his return timeline should have a lot to say about who they might be willing or able to sell.
To be honest, this is sucky news because I like watching him and he makes the Red Wings better. However, in terms of how silver linings work, this sucky news probably couldn’t have come at a better time for the Wings if you accept that it’s a series of events that was unavoidable.
In the short run, this likely all but guarantees that Bobby Ryan earns a contract out of his current PTO agreement. It also increases the likelihood that Lucas Raymond gets some time. When you consider where the additional scoring should come from, the next four months will be a lot of pressure on Filip Zadina’s shoulders.
In the longer run, it gives the Wings more time to showcase folks they might want to move around March 2022 and it puts a parachute on the thought that a team which likely needs favorable lottery odds more than it needs a playoff run could go on a true tear and hurt their draft odds. It also gives Vrána a chance to solve a problem at the beginning of a three year contract that could otherwise nag him the entire time.
I don’t like any of it, but if it had to happen, it could suck more.