A few hours after Jakub Vrana was reassigned to Hershey, Capitals Coach Barry Trotz expressed confidence that the former first round pick will develop into a productive NHL player.
He just needs more seasoning. And, of course, an opening in a Capitals’ lineup that currently does not have one.
“I think the one thing that we’re pretty confident of is that he will be an NHL regular,” Trotz said of Vrana, the 13th overall pick in 2014. “We’re a deep team. He’s a 20-year-old player.”
Although Vrana did not produce a point in three preseason games, his speed and skill are obvious. It’s just as apparent, though, that he’s got learn to use his teammates more and try to beat defenders one-on-one less.
“[Jakub] has done a lot of good stuff,” Trotz said. “He’s a guy who physically has matured and now has the strength. He’s started to produce in the American Hockey League. The problem is he hasn’t really produced at the National Hockey League level.”
Trotz added: “He’s worked on his defensive game, and it’s gotten much better. The wall play has gotten much better. Now, what we’d like to see from him is more of a pro game. In the American Hockey League, he can hang on to the puck a little bit more. I need him to give-and-go a little bit more. It’ll actually make him quicker, and he’s a quick player as it is. Right now, [he’s] just relying on carrying the mail a little bit much to have production at this level. But he’s 20 years old and he’s a pretty good talent. And he’s a fantastic kid. Got a great work ethic. We expect him to be a longtime Capital, for sure.”
Vrana was one of eight players reassigned to Hershey on Monday afternoon.