Who is Jakub Vrana?

When the Red Wings traded Anthony Mantha to the Washington Capitals at the trade deadline on Monday, a lot of the hockey pundits were very happy with the return GM Steve Yzerman got. One point I’ve seen repeated is that in overall terms, Jakub Vrana might actually be better than Anthony Mantha all by himself and that the additional value the Capitals gave up was about dumping Richard Panik’s contract.

We know what the Wings gave up in Mantha, but how about what they got in Vrana?

Biography-wise, Vrana was taken the year after Mantha with the 13th overall pick by the Capitals (two spots in front of Dylan Larkin). He’s listed at 6’0” and 197lbs, so he’s smaller than Mantha but not exactly a tiny player.

in 284 games, Vrana has 157 points. He’s 25 years old and set to be an RFA coming off a two-year deal with a cap hit of $3.35M. He’s been popular among Capitals fans, but maybe not so much with Caps’ management, per Russian Machine Never Breaks:

The trade ends the tenure of Jakub Vrana, a very popular player on the Capitals. Despite being one of the team’s top scorers at even strength, Vrana was recently scratched by Peter Laviolette for two games.

“We’ve had many conversations just about his play with regard to the competitiveness of it and the speed of it,” Laviolette said. “He is a very skilled player but there are other aspects of the game that are very important… We’re looking for a higher level of play.”

Vrana, 25, had 11 goals and 14 assists through 39 games. His ice time had diminished sharply in recent weeks, dipping near 10 minutes per night at times. During a March 9 game, Vrana, who was benched in the third period, appeared to stare at someone on the Capitals bench after scoring the overtime game winner.

In terms of expectations for Vrana, Yzerman said we got a replacement for Mantha’s offense in Vrana and a player who can play in a similar role, which seems pretty obvious from looking at things.

It will be interested to see how the change of scenery works for both sides.  It seems like a good value-get for Detroit.