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Capitals 2017-18 Prospect Preview: Jakub Vrana

Capitals 2017-18 Prospect Preview: Jakub Vrana

YOU CAN WATCH TARIK AND JILL'S FULL BREAKDOWN OF JAKUB VRANA IN THE VIDEO PLAYER ABOVE.

As we skate toward the start of the 2017-18 NHL Regular Season, our CSN Capitals team of Jill Sorenson and Tarik El-Bashir detail and analyze the Capitals roster.

They will take a look at breakout candidates, prospects on the rise, players in need of improvement and a look at the rest of the Metropolitan Division, all leading up to the start of the NHL regular season.

It's time to take a look at which top prospects have the tools to become full-time NHL players and what they have to do to get the call-up from Hershey.

First up is Jakub Vrana, arguably the most intriguining and complex prospect in the Capitals' organization. 

PROSPECT PREVIEWS: Nathan Walker | Chandler Stephenson | Christian Djoos

2017-18 CAPITALS PROSPECT PREVIEW: JAKUB VRANA

Position: Left Wing
Age: 21
Height:6-0
Weight: 195 pounds
Contract: One-Way. Three-year, $4.28 million (2014)

PROSPECT PODCAST: Hershey Bears head coach Troy Mann

AHL Seasons: 3 (88)
2016-17 AHL Stats: 49 games, 19 goals, 17 assists
NHL Seasons: 1 (21)
2016-17 NHL Stats: 3 goals, 3 assists

PREVIEWING 2017-18 BREAKOUT CANDIDATES: Tom Wilson | Brett Connolly | Andre Burakovsky

Tarik El-Bashir's Prospect Preview:

After a getting a few stints in Washington last season, Jakub Vrana’s challenge will be significantly tougher in 2017-18: he’s got to turn his vast potential into tangible production. 

And the 21-year-old may have no better opportunity than the one he’ll be afforded this winter. With Marcus Johansson in New Jersey and Justin Williams in Carolina, Washington needs a couple of wingers to step into important roles. As things stand now, Andre Burakovsky will get one of those spots, while Vrana’s name figures to be penciled into the other.

There’s no questioning Vrana’s skill; he’s got wheels, good hands and a quick release. But now comes the hard part: putting it all together while showing the consistency he could not find last season with the Bears or the Caps.

Indeed, last year was an odd one for the 2014 first rounder. In each of his NHL stays, Vrana started strong and then faded. What troubled management, though, was the Czech’s response to being demoted.

In short, it wasn’t great.

The result was a disjointed season in Hershey, where Vrana was scratched a few times and his overall performance was, well, a little underwhelming.

I’m not ready to call this a make-or-break year for Vrana, but if he doesn’t develop into a full-time NHLer, I’d consider it a big disappointment.

RELATED: Ranking the ten best Capitals players of all time

Jill Sorenson's Prospect Analysis:

What He Has: "This is a guy who the organization looks at for his natural abillity. Obviously he has that flash, that offensive flare the team really wants. He has the speed they really want."

What He Needs to Do: "He needs to take advantage of the opportunities that are laid in front of him. I think a lot of people think this top-six spot is his to lose. So take advantage of that and make it stick."

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In just one week, Madison Bowey already looks like a much improved player

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In just one week, Madison Bowey already looks like a much improved player

Madison Bowey’s second game went a lot better than his first and it’s not just because the Caps allowed only two goals as opposed to eight.

Despite being thrust into a significant role in his first taste of NHL experience, Bowey seemed to settle in a bit in his second contest even as it came against the NHL’s best offense in the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“Just everything in the first game felt like it happened so quick, I think,” Bowey said Thursday after the team’s practice. “It was obviously nice to come back in Washington and play in the home in front of the home crowd, get a practice in on Monday before the game Tuesday with the team. Just all the little factors that went into it definitely helped and I think it definitely felt a lot smoother out there on the ice.”

RELATED: BURAKOVSKY DEMOTED TO THIRD LINE

Playing at home definitely has its benefits for the coaching staff as they try to protect the rookie defensemen. Home teams get the chance to change after the visiting team allowing the coaches to pick the matchups they want for Bowey.

More favorable matchups certainly helped him, but Bowey also seemed to play with more confidence and a level of calm that was not there against Philadelphia. For Bowey, the difference was having time to settle in and practice with the team.

“Obviously this team is one of the veteran teams in the league so to be able to practice against top players in the league, it goes a long way,” Bowey said.

RELATED: WHY THE CAPS SHOULD NOT TRADE PROSPECT IIYA SAMSONOV

Bowey was called up for a Saturday game in Philadelphia after Matt Niskanen suffered a hand injury Friday in New Jersey. That means he quickly had to join the team and jump into the lineup for his first ever NHL game without any practice with the Caps at all.

Bowey now has two practices and two games under his belt and even a team-building day at FBI training. The effect that has had on his game was noticeable on Tuesday. It should be even more clear on Friday as the team travels to face the Detroit Red Wings.

“I feel myself improving every day,” Bowey said. “It forces you to really work hard and be on your top every day you come to the rink so for me, just having those two practices already have been huge. I feel the development's getting a lot better early.”

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Game 8: Capitals at Red Wings Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 8: Capitals at Red Wings Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals at Detroit Red Wings

Where: Little Caesar's Arena, Detroit, Mich.

When: 7:30 p.m. ET. Coverage starts at 6:30 p.m. ET with Capitals FaceOff.

How to Watch: Capitals at Red Wings will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington Plus. (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals at Red Wings game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-RED WINGS GAME?

The Capitals (3-3-1) take on the Red Wings (4-3-0) Friday, October 20 at 7:30 p.m. ET at Little Caesars's Arena.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-RED WINGS GAME ON?

The Capitals-Red Wings game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington Plus. Capitals FaceOff gets things started at 6:30 p.m. ET followed by Caps GameTime at 7:00 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington Plus following the game for Caps Extra followed by Caps Overtime and Caps in 30 for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:30 p.m. — Capitals @ Red Wings
10:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:30 p.m. — Caps OverTime
 

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-RED WINGS GAME?

The Capitals-Red Wings game, as well as the pre and postgame shows, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

WHAT ARE THE LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-RED WINGS GAME?

Here are the projected lines:

Forwards
Tom Wilson - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Jakub Vrana
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Devante Smith-Pelly - Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Defense
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Taylor Chorney

Goalies
Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches
Nathan Walker, Aaron Ness, Tyler Graovac (injured), Matt Niskanen (LTIR)

CAPITALS-RED WINGS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.