Forward Jakub Vrana will undergo shoulder surgery and will be out for at least months after suffering a shoulder injury in training camp.
Vrana’s absence is a major blow to the lineup. Projected as a first liner, Vrana is coming off of an impressive performance in his first stretch as a Red Wing, scoring 11 points in 11 games. Probably the best natural scorer on the roster, Vrana was going to be a major piece of Detroit’s offense. Now, the coaching staff will have to look elsewhere for production, at least for the first four months of the season.
Changes to the Lineup
The loss of Vrana frees up a spot on the top line, which will likely be occupied by Filip Zadina. This’ll put the young forward’s development in the spotlight; with top-line minutes and good line mates, expectations will be higher than previous years.
Vrana’s injury also means a freed up spot somewhere down the lineup.
Bobby Ryan is the obvious candidate to fill the gap. He’s performed extremely well after signing a professional tryout with Detroit, really making his case for a roster spot in Detroit’s opening preseason game. Ryan scored a goal, an assist and a shootout goal, helping the Red Wings best the Chicago Blackhawks in a 4-3 overtime win. His point production was representative of his excellent play, where he looked like one of the best players on the ice.
This could also mean a chance for some of the prospects to make a last-minute push to Detroit.
Lucas Raymond comes to mind. Recently, Head Coach Jeff Blashill stated that Raymond’s preseason had to so impressive that “it should be clear to my wife that he should be on the team”. Well, with a spot freed up, Raymond has his chance. He had a good performance in the team’s prospect tournament, but he has to prove himself against some improved competition in the
Joe Veleno is also an option. Although he’s projected as a center, there’s a chance the organization will have him develop on the wing. Veleno had a good offseason and a great training camp, so he’s going to provide competition for the spot.
Lastly, the organization could just reshuffle the current roster. Carter Rowney is essentially the team’s 13th forward this year, but he could slot into the bottom lines and move someone like Adam Erne or even Vladislav Namestnikov to the second line. Those two forwards aren’t ideal as second liners, but the team isn’t looking for playoff contention this year.