The Detroit Red Wings headed to Pittsburgh today and Jakub Vrana presumably headed for Chicago to begin a three-game conditioning assignment with the Grand Rapids Griffins
Vrana has practiced with the team since Dec. 21, but hasn’t played in two months. He left the team in October to enter the NHL/NHL Players Assistance Program. Vrana hasn’t said what issue or issues he addressed while being part of the program.
The Griffins play the Wolves Wednesday in Chicago. On Friday, they play another road game against the Milwaukee Admirals. On Saturday, the Griffins are home to play the Admirals. The Red Wings will play three games while Vrana is with the Griffins. They play at Pittsburgh Wednesday, at Buffalo Thursday and home against the Ottawa on New Year’s Eve.
Presuming Vrana is deemed fit for NHL action, he could play on Wednesday, Jan. 4 at home against the New Jersey Devils. The last time Vrana played a game was Oct. 14 against the Devils in New Jersey. He posted a goal and an assist.
That Jan. 4 game against New Jersey could also be the return date for Robby Fabbri who hasn’t played yet this season. He is recovering from offseason knee surgery.
Both of these players should play among the team’s top six forwards. The Red Wings are also awaiting Tyler Bertuzzi’s return. Bertuzzi has been out since undergoing hand surgery on Dec. 2. He is expected back in the middle of January, although coach Derek Lalonde hasn’t provided any real timeline.
The return of Vrana, Fabbri and Bertuzzi is like adding 80 goals to the lineup. Their return gives Lalonde more options in piecing together his lines.