The smile on Jakub Vrana’s face is really the only answer necessary to answer the question of how close the Detroit Red Wings forward is to suiting up and playing for the team.
Out all season since undergoing September shoulder surgery, Vrana is still wearing a non-contact jersey when he practices with the team. However, all signs continue to indicate that he’s on track for a return to action later this month.
“I’m getting there,” Vrana said. “I’ve still got an appointment with the doctor. Until then I’ve been skating with the team, still wearing a non-contact jersey but I feel great.
“We have a time window and I’m getting there.”
Jakub Vrana and Troy Stecher out on the ice with non-contact jerseys 🥲 pic.twitter.com/JTQ1gfvfpo
— Carley Johnston (@carleykjohnston) January 27, 2022
Naturally, the closer he gets to being back, the more Vrana’s patience is wearing thin with the process of recovery.
“For sure,” he admitted. “I’ve been out for a while. Physically I feel great. Mentally, I’ve been watching a lot of hockey games. So I’m really excited to get back at it.”
Still, you won’t find him expressing any bitterness over the drawn-out absence and hours of painstaking rehab he’s endured.
“It’s part of the sport,” Vrana said. “It’s part of the sport we are doing here. You just gotta mentally be strong and just stick with the plan and stick with what you’re doing, believe in yourself that you’re gonna get back.
“That’s what I’ve been doing and like I said before I’m really excited to play again.”
Vrana Brings Red Wings Instant Offense
Excitement is also an apt descriptive to explain how Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill is feeling as Vrana nears a finish line in his recovery.
“There’s zero doubt he’s one of the most talented players that we have,” Blashill said. “Certainly from a shooting standpoint and a stick skills standpoint he’s as talented as anyone we have.
Jakub Vrana with another highlight reelpic.twitter.com/ppbHpt8diQ
— Everything Hockey (@EHClothing) May 1, 2021
“We understand that’s a big piece offensively, which always helps. Being able to score can really change tides of games.”
Acquired last season in a trade deadline deal with the Washington Capitals for a package that was including Anthony Mantha, Vrana delivered instant imapct. He netted eight goals and 11 points in 11 games for Detroit, including a four-goal game against the Dallas Stars.
Vrana believes he can still be that player once 100% healthy.
“That’s what’s in my head right now,” Jakub Vrana said. “That’s what I’m focusing on. It’s a hockey game. I’m a confident player.
“I’m happy to be back, or happy to get there and make the difference.”