The Detroit Red Wings reached a contract agreement with forward Jakub Vrana less than 24 hours before tomorrow’s scheduled arbitration hearing, just as yours truly was laying down for a necessary nap at 11:30 AM.
The 3-year contract breaks down as follows…
The #LGRW re-signed 25 y/o F Vrana to 3 year $5.25M Cap Hit Deal:— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) August 10, 2021
Year 1 4.75M
Year 2 5.25M
Year 3 5.75M
Deal covers 1 UFA year
8G 11P in 11GP after trade from #ALLCAPS
Rep’d by JP Barry @CAAHockey https://t.co/28yH2vCxOe
The Red Wings still have Adam Erne (who’s scheduled for arbitration on August 21st), Filip Hronek and Givani Smith to re-sign before training camp begins in mid-September.
In my opinion, the Red Wings gave Vrana a very fair market-value contract for a 25-year-old who’s established himself as a 15-to-20-goal-scorer, but in case you want me to cast a wider net, here’s a survey of the rest of the media’s takes on Vrana’s re-signing:
- I thought that Sportsnet’s staff did a very nice job of framing Vrana’s deal:
Vrana, a 25-year-old Czech, had eight goals and three assists in 11 games last season with the Red Wings after they acquired him as part of a major move just before the NHL trade deadline. The Washington Capitals sent Vrana, Richard Panik, 2021 first- and 2022 second-round pick to Detroit for Anthony Mantha.
Vrana had 36 points in 50 games last season. He had 84 career goals and 168 assists over five seasons. He had three game-winning goals in 11 games with the Red Wings after scoring three winners in Washington last season.
The Capitals drafted Vrana with the No. 13 pick in 2014, two picks before Detroit selected center Dylan Larkin.
2. The Score’s Sean O’Leary went to the analytics:
Vrana, 25, is a top-six scoring threat who generates five-on-five chances at an elite rate.
The Capitals drafted him 13th overall in 2014, and he won a Stanley Cup with the franchise in 2018. Vrana notched 36 points over 50 games this past season, 11 of which came during his 11 contests with Detroit after the trade.
Jakub Vrana, signed 3x$5.2M, is a scoring winger who's been one of the league's most efficient 5v5 snipers since he entered the league. Lethal at creating rush chances for himself and finishing them. #LGRW pic.twitter.com/CtEAMB3eYh— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) August 10, 2021
3. Pro Hockey Rumors’ Gavin Lee also weighed in…
For $5.25MM, he gets a healthy raise from the $3.35MM cap hit he carried over the last two seasons. He will tie Frans Nielsen as the team’s second-highest-paid forward, just below Dylan Larkin’s $6.1MM. That represents his place in the lineup, as Vrana is arguably the team’s most exciting forward heading into this season after lighting it up following a midseason trade. Acquired from the Washington Capitals as part of a package for Anthony Mantha, Vrana scored eight goals and 11 points in 11 games down the stretch.
That kind of production hasn’t been common in Detroit recently, but it actually shouldn’t be all that surprising from the 25-year-old Czech. In the 2019-20 season, he had 25 goals and 52 points in 69 games for the Capitals. His playoff performance left something to be desired though, which likely factored into the decision to move him for a bigger Mantha. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Vrana outproduce Mantha during the regular season at least, and he now comes in at a cheaper price tag. The big forward in Washington is on a four-year deal that carries a $5.7MM cap hit.
With the Red Wings in the early stages of a rebuild still, it will be interesting to see if Vrana even plays out this deal in Detroit. Though he’s not old by any means, he is quite a few years older than the rest of the talent that GM Steve Yzerman is collecting. There’s certainly no guarantee that the Red Wings will be competitive by the time Vrana’s entering the final year of this deal, meaning he could become a rental down the road. For now, he’ll be getting a huge opportunity in the team’s top-six to play big minutes and show what his offensive ceiling really is.
4. The Wings’ beat writers also weighed in, with the Free Press’s Helene St. James saying this…
The 25-year-old Vrana showed some top-six-forward ability, scoring eight goals and 11 points in 11 games with the Wings, including four goals against Dallas on April 22. Over 50 games last year, Vrana had 19 goals, 36 points and a plus-10 rating.
He then scored two goals and four points in seven games for the Czech Republic in the World Championships. His best NHL season was 2019-20, when he scored 25 goals and 52 points in 69 games.
It has been a busy offseason for Wings general manager Steve Yzerman, late last month re-signed forward Tyler Bertuzzi for two years and $9.5 million. Yzerman also extended forward Sam Gagner and defenseman Marc Staal, and added forward Pius Suter, defenseman Jordan Oesterle and traded for defenseman Nick Leddy and goalie Alex Nedeljkovic.
Forward Adam Erne remains an unsigned restricted free agent.
Vrana figures to be in the mix for a top scoring line along with Bertuzzi, Suter, Dylan Larkin, Filip Zadina and Robby Fabbri.
5. The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan stuck with the short story…
Vrana quickly made an impression with the Wings. Vrana, 25, had eight goals (including four in one game) and three assists, for 11 points in 11 games with the Wings. Vrana’s goal-scoring ability was apparent quickly, and he showed a willingness and desire to play a sound, two-way game that apparently wasn’t always shown in Washington.
For the season, Vrana had 19 goals and 17 assists (36 points) in 50 games between the Red Wings and Capitals. Vrana just completed a two-year contract worth $6.7 million ($3.35 million salary cap hit).
With Vrana signing, the Wings’ lone remaining restricted free agent who has an arbitration case is forward Adam Erne (Aug. 21). The two sides in that case also are likely to come to an agreement.
Defenseman Filip Hronek and forward Givani Smith are restricted free agents with no arbitration rights.
6. MLive’s Ansar Khan offered this…
Vrana was asking for $5.7 million per season through arbitration and the Red Wings were offering $3.65 million. The hearing would have taken place on Wednesday.
Vrana, 25, is coming off a two-year contract valued at $3.35 million a season. He tallied 19 goals and 36 points in 50 games in 2021, including eight goals and 11 points in 11 games with Detroit following the April 12 trade from Washington for Anthony Mantha, which also sent a first- and a second-round pick as well as forward Richard Panik to Detroit.
He brings a much-needed combination of speed and scoring skills for a team that struggles on offense.
6. Detroit Hockey Now’s Kevin Allen also weighed in…
Detroit Hockey Now’s original projection was $4.25 million for a one-season deal. It appears Yzerman agreed to move closer to Vrana’s ask in exchange for the longer term.
The Red Wings have an upcoming salary arbitration with Adam Erne, and also have contracts to negotiate with Filip Hronek and Givani Smith.
The Red Wings, according to CapFriendly.com, have roughly $20 million in cap space remaining. However, they could be at just under $13 million after signing the three remaining RFAs. It could go slightly lower if Hronek signs a longer term deal.
7. As did The Athletic’s Max Bultman:
Is this a fair contract?
Max Bultman, Red Wings beat writer: Both sides can feel pretty good about this deal.
For Vrana, he gets a big bump from his previous contract ($3.35 million AAV), better reflecting his strong offensive numbers the past three seasons. The $5.25 million AAV is close to what Mantha signed for last offseason ($5.7 million), and the three-year term will take Vrana to unrestricted free agency at age 28. If he plays well, that will put him in strong position for another payday.
Meanwhile, the Red Wings can feel good about getting some room for Vrana to outperform that cap hit for the entirety of his contract — Vrana was on pace for roughly 60 points in each of the past two seasons, and is in line for an increased role in Detroit compared to the minutes he was getting in Washington. This looks like a win-win.
8. And, if you need a refresher on the offseason, per ESPN…
The Red Wings recently re-signed left winger Tyler Bertuzzi to a two-year, $4.75 million contract, keeping another key player for their rebuilding effort.
General manager Steve Yzerman took advantage of his cap space this offseason, acquiring Carolina Hurricanes rookie goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic for the No. 94 pick in the draft and the rights to pending free-agent netminder Jonathan Bernier. Detroit signed Nedeljkovic to a two-year, $6 million contract, slightly less than the 25-year-old might have been awarded in an arbitration hearing.
Yzerman also seemed to make a savvy move early in free agency, signing 25-year-old Pius Suter to a two-year, $6.5 million deal after the Swiss forward had 14 goals and 13 assists as a rookie last season with the Chicago Blackhawks.
While the Red Wings will have many new players when the season begins in two months, they will have the same coach for a seventh season. Yzerman decided in May to give Jeff Blashill a contract extension despite a five-year postseason drought and a career record of 172-221-62.