Jakub Vrana didn’t make a big splash in his return to the NHL on Tuesday. Regardless, he was delighted to be back skating in the pool with the world’s best hockey players.
Playing his first NHL game since Oct. 15, Vrana was held off the scoresheet as the Detroit Red Wings were beating his old team the Washington Capitals 3-1. He was +1, had two shots on goal and also committed two giveaways.
“I tried to keep it simple today, first game back,” Vrana explained to Bally Sports Detroit. “I think it worked out.”
Vrana was out of the NHL since entering the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program in October. Upon returning to Detroit in December, he was first given a conditioning assignment with the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins. Later, after clearing NHL waivers, Vrana was assigned outright to the Griffins.
Last week, he was summoned to Detroit following a lower-body injury to 15-goal scorer Lucas Raymond. In 40 games with the Red Wings, Vrana has accounted for 22 goals. However, with the Red Wings on a winning streak, he was a healthy scratch for three games until opportunity was knocking on Tuesday.
Interestingly, Detroit is now 3-0 this season with Vrana in the lineup.
Vrana Returns Where It Started
For the first time since the 2021 trade that sent him from the Capitals to the Red Wings in 2021, he was playing a game back in Washington, where he won a Stanley Cup as an NHL rookie in 2017-18. The team honored him with a tribute video during a stoppage in play.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) February 22, 2023
“First of all, they did a good job on that video,” Vrana said. “It was pretty long. I liked it, though.
“I had some flashbacks of playing here, but once the puck was dropped it was all business.”
Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde was pleased by whjat he was receiving from Vrana in his first game back in the show.
“Did great, created some offense,” Lalonde told Bally Sports Detroit. “I thought he was connected in the other zones, too, which our whole entire team was.
“Great job by him tonight and definitely a good step in the right direction.”