Although the Capitals were encouraged by Jakub Vrana’s 12-game stint in Washington, the rookie’s lack of playing time recently coupled with the team’s upcoming schedule and salary cap situation made the decision to send him down Sunday a relatively straightforward one.
“Real easy,” Trotz said. “We have a day off tomorrow. He’s not in the lineup [vs. the Senators]. We’re a capped [out] team. He’s going to Hershey, plain and simple. We have the numbers right now.”
Vrana posted a goal and two assists in his first taste of NHL experience. But then he went cold, recording no points in five consecutive games before being a healthy scratch for both Devils games. He was informed of his demotion prior to Sunday’s morning skate in Arlington.
Trotz said he had originally planned to play Vrana against the Senators but changed his mind because he wanted to keep together the Brett Connolly-Lars Eller-Andre Burakovsky line. That trio accounted for the first goal in Saturday’s 6-2 win over the Devils.
The Capitals are currently carrying only 12 forwards—the minimum for four full lines.
Trotz said there are no immediate plans to recall a 13th forward and that the decision will be made on a day-to-day basis. The fact that the Caps are home this week and Hershey is just a two-hour drive away makes it even easier to keep the minimum and bank cap space.
“It’s really convenient,” he said. “It’s a real good situation we have there.”
If the team does decide to bring up an extra forward, Trotz said the choice will hinge on the type of player he feels is needed.
“If we are going to bring an extra forward it may be someone in a different role,” he said. “Or it could a less expensive player just to have [an extra body], that’s played very well down there. That’s the reality of the new NHL.”
Although it’s unclear when Vrana will be back, Trotz said the 20-year-old winger left a good first impression.
“Talked to Jakub this morning,” Trotz said. “Real positive. I know his mother is heading home [to the Czech Republic] tomorrow, so the timing that way worked out just fine. [He brings] speed, confidence with the puck, offensive flair. Real good poise. …I think he showed very well. We’re quite encouraged that he’ll be able to help us.”
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