Detroit Red Wings’ Jakub Vrana to have shoulder surgery, out at least 4 months

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Red Wings had Jakub Vrana slotted to be a significant part of their offense, but now must look to others to fill the void.

Coach Jeff Blashill delivered the bad news Thursday morning, announcing Vrana will have shoulder surgery that will sideline him a minimum of four months.

“He’s a guy that, going into the season, we had penciled into some big roles with the opportunity to score goals for us,” Blashill said. “Certainly, we’d be in a better spot today as we stand if he were healthy and ready to go. But he’s not and that’s just the reality of life.

“One of our biggest things we do as a team is – we certainly care about the guys that are out – but we worry about the guys that are available to us and who can get it done. It opens up a top-six spot and a power play spot for somebody.”

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Veteran Bobby Ryan is a frontrunner to fill the role; the savvy winger knows how to get into scoring spots, something he demonstrated as recently as Wednesday, when he had a goal and assist in regulation and also scored in a shootout in an exhibition game Wednesday. Ryan, 34, is at camp on a tryout.

Another candidate, at the other end of his NHL career, is Lucas Raymond, the Wings’ first-round pick from 2020. He’s a smart, skilled winger looking to make the jump to the NHL. Joe Veleno, a first-round pick from 2018, is also a possibility, though the Wings ultimately want Veleno playing center.

“We’ve talked a lot about a guy like Bobby Ryan, Lucas Raymond, Joe Veleno – do they make the team?” Blashill said. “Is there a more direct avenue now? The two young guys I’ve talked about lots, they’re going to have to play great. Bobby is going to have to play great. If they play great, there’s an avenue for them.”

If Ryan and Raymond play equally well, odds are the Wings sign Ryan and Raymond starts in the minors.

“The thing I would say is, if all things are equal, if player X is equal and a young player, Y, has played about the same, and we can keep player X and player Y, why wouldn’t we do that?” Blashill said.

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The Wings acquired Vrana, 25, as part of last year’s trade-deadline deal that sent Anthony Mantha to the Washington Capitals. Vrana looked like an immediate fit, contributing 11 points in 11 games. General manager Steve Yzerman signed Vrana to a three-year deal with a $5.25 million annual average value in August.

Blashill said the injury had been nagging. Vrana arrived two days late for training camp, and left 10 minutes into his first pracgice.

“It could have happened three weeks into the season,” Blashill said. “That’s what happens with these types of deals – I think, ultimately, on a lot of these deals, surgery is the last option. Jakub thought he could get through the season and unfortunately he couldn’t.”

It could have happened three weeks into the season. That’s what happens with these types of deals – I think, ultimately, on a lot of these deals, surgery is the last option. Jakub thought he could get through the season and unfortunately he couldn’t.

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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