Coach Derek Lalonde is giving Jakub Vrana his first shot at returning to the Detroit Red Wings lineup since entering the NHL/NHL Players Association Players Assistance Program in October.
Vrana will replace Filip Zadina in Detroit’s lineup for tonight’s road game against the Washington Capitals.
“Don’t love pulling Zadina,” Lalonde said. ” He’s played well for us. It kinda came down to giving ‘V’ an opportunity. Want to see where’s he is at, what we have… Not an easy decision. ”
Morning skate updates from Coach Lalonde.
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Lalonde said Robert Hagg will also come back in the lineup for Jordan Oesterle on the Detroit defense. Ville Husso, as expected, will receive the start in net.
After leaving the Players Assistance Program, Vrana practiced with the Red Wings and then did a conditioning stint with the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Red Wings then placed him on waivers. He cleared waivers and then registered six goals and 11 points in 17 games for the Griffins. GM Steve Yzerman recalled him after Lucas Raymond was injured.
But with the Red Wings in a winning streak, Lalonde opted not to change his lineup. Hence, Vrana has been a healthy scratch.
Vrana, 26, will playing against the Capitals team that traded him to the Red Wings during the 2020-21 season. The Red Wings gave up Anthony Mantha in the deal and Detroit received Vrana, Richard Panik, plus a first-round pick and a second rounder. The first rounder became Sebastian Cossa. The second rounder became Dmitri Buchelnikov.
Vrana has scored 22 goals in 39 games in his career with the Red Wings. His playing time has been limited by injuries. When the Red Wings set him to the American Hockey League, he was asked to work on the defensive side of his game. He is a proven scorer, but he has historically been a liability for his defense.