ARLINGTON—Jakub Vrana will be a healthy scratch tonight vs. the visiting Devils, Coach Barry Trotz confirmed after the morning skate.
It’ll mark the first time since the rookie was recalled late last month—a span of 12 games—that he’ll sit.
“It’s a young [player’s] process,” said Vrana, who has not recorded a point in five games.
“It’s how it is sometimes. I’m staying positive. I’m looking forward, [will] work hard and just control what I can control and try to get back in the lineup.”
Trotz’s decision to scratch Vrana should not come as a major shock. Early in his stint, the 20-year-old injected some speed and offense into a lineup that was in need of both. Then the production started to come as he scored a goal and notched two assists during a three-game stretch.
Lately, though, Trotz has hinted that Vrana may have hit the proverbial rookie wall. During the five-game points drought, he also went two games without a shot on goal.
And with the Caps dropping three of their last four games (1-2-1), Trotz felt like it was time for a change.
It appears that veteran Brett Connolly will replace Vrana on the Lars Eller line, though the team did not do line rushes during the optional morning skate.
Asked if Vrana could be sent to Hershey, Trotz said a decision on his immediate status has not been made.
“We’ll consider all the options,” he said. “We’re going to do what’s best for the player. We’re not in a development league, we’re in a winning league. We’ve got to balance that and that’s what we’re going to do—whatever is best for his development and us winning, we’ll do that balance.”
“It’s one game,” Trotz said, “we’ll see where it goes after tonight.”
As for Vrana, he sounded like a young player who understands the decision but is also determined to fight his way back into the lineup.
“We have a great team,” he said.
“Many, many great players here. And when you’re cold [for a] few games you might need a reset, get back on the track and wait for [when] the opportunity comes again. That’s what I’m doing right now, staying positive, seeing how it’s going to go and trying to get my spot in the lineup back.”