Capitals

Top Caps prospect Jakub Vrana set to make NHL debut Thursday

Capitals

Jakub Vrana was recalled sometime in the early afternoon on Wednesday. The Capitals’ 2014 first round draft pick, however, did not find out until a little while later.

Why? He was taking his post-practice nap in Hershey as his cell phone buzzed repeatedly.

“I get few messages from equipment managers and head coach in Hershey,” Vrana said. “Then I just respond back and they tell me.”

Asked to clarify that he indeed missed multiple calls, Vrana smiled and cracked, “Yeah. I didn't want to say that, but I missed the call a few times.”

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Vrana is wide awake now, though, and probably has been for much of the past 24 hours because on Thursday night he'll make his NHL debut against the Islanders.

At the morning skate, Vrana, 20, skated on the second line with fellow youngsters Evgeny Kuznetsov, 24, and Andre Burakovsky, 21. Vrana and Burakovsky have some familiarity with one another, having skated together in camp and in the preseason.

”It's nice to be in one line with him again,” Vrana said of Burakovsky. “Now it's a little different and I hope we'll have a good chemistry out there.”

Burakovsky said: “We have played really well together. He has a lot of skill, a lot of speed. It’s a good line. All three of us have a lot of skill and speed. It’s going to be a fast line, for sure.”

 

The preseason didn’t get off to the best of starts for Vrana, who arrived in Arlington, Va., earlier than other prospects this summer. He had to take the training camp conditioning twice and then registered no points in three preseason games before being sent to Hershey on Oct. 3—a little earlier than anticipated.

Vrana, however, found his game with the Bears. Prior to being called up, he had nine goals 16 points in 18 games in the AHL. He’s also worked to become a better player on the defensive side of the puck.

“Little details you always need to work on,” he said. “Obviously for me it's the D-zone coverage so try to work on that and make a good decisions on the ice.”

Coach Barry Trotz said his first conversation with Vrana since he arrived was short and to the point.

“Just, ‘Hi’, and, ‘Welcome to the league,'” Trotz said. “And, 'We play the same systems [as Hershey]. Hockey is the same way. It’s going to be a little bit quicker [but] you know that from the preseason. Just relax and play.' It’s an exciting day for him.”

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