Detroit Red Wings forward Jakub Vrana finally found the scoresheet in the Griffins’ 4-2 win over Texas last night. In his fifth game with the team, Vrana assisted on Austin Czarnik’s goal that gave the Griffins a 2-0 advantage. Grand Rapids head coach Ben Simon knows stats are being followed by fans, front office, and even Vrana himself.
But in Simon’s mind, it can’t cloud good hockey habits.
“Obviously offensive-minded players, one of the things they grade themselves on and evaluate themselves on is their point production,” Simon said. “Jakub’s gotta realize he has to play well away from the puck to have success.”
Alex Nedeljkovic with 11 more saves in the second, 22 for the game and @griffinshockey leads 2-0 over visiting @TexasStars. Jakub Vrana earned his first point, an assist on Austin Czarnik’s 8th of the year.
— Bob Kaser (@bkaser1) January 7, 2023
It’s almost echoes what Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde said after Detroit’s 3-2 loss to Florida last night. Lalonde’s assessment was more blunt. After stating that Vrana had but one goal in Detroit and zero in GR, Lalonde expounded that goal-scoring is course the hope for potential.
Which leaves us with Simon’s words.
Coaches are Clear: Play Off the Puck Matters for Vrana
After clearing waivers, it became evident that the Red Wings view their team stronger without Vrana as a part of it. It’s a damning statement for one of main pieces that brought him over for Anthony Mantha, Richard Panik, a 2021 first round pick (Sebastian Cossa), and a 2022 second round pick (Dmitri Bulchenikov).
Vrana’s initial reason for heading to Grand Rapids was a conditioning stint after being in the league’s player assistance program. Following the three-game action, Vrana was shockingly sent through waivers, leading to speculation as to whether another team would claim him.
Now, the Red Wings forward finds himself in Grand Rapids with just a point in five games. Will the goal scorer figure it out?
The key, according to Simon, is no surprise to any Red Wings fan who has followed the organizational philosophy: play well away from the puck.
“The better he plays away from the puck is going to lead to playing with the puck and having more chances,” Simon said. “It’s a work in progress. We’ll look at the video tonight and go from there.”
If that work indeed progresses, Vrana could find himself back with Detroit.