The Detroit Red Wings have improved mightily from last season, especially on offense. This leap has been made without one of the team’s best forwards, Jakub Vrana.
Even on last year’s offense, Vrana was electric. After he was trading to the Red Wings, Vrana scored eight goals and three assists in just 11 games. For a team that had struggled to put pucks in the net all year, Vrana’s immediate offensive impact was incredible.
When he finally recovers from his injury and slots back into the lineup, he’ll almost certainly thrive with the improved offense and roster. The Red Wings went from averaging just 2.23 goals per game last year to 2.81 this year. The top line has been the most obvious contributor to the improved offense, but the defenseman have also been excellent. Moritz Seider leads all rookies in assists; he’s a playmaker that can cycle the puck effectively, keep possession in the offensive zone and activate from the blue line. Nick Leddy has also been pretty solid as a distributor. With offensively competent defenseman like that behind Vrana, the points should come easily.
The forward looked extremely comfortable with his larger role with the Wings, and he’d play a big role this year, too. However, at this point, it’s unclear where exactly he’d slot into the lineup. If you’re Jeff Blashill, you don’t want to break apart the top line. The Tyler Bertuzzi-Dylan Larkin-Lucas Raymond line has been incredible this year, consistently powering the team to victories with stellar offense. Vrana would probably put up crazy numbers with any combination of those three, but to kick off his return to the team, he’d probably slot into the second line. If Filip Zadina hasn’t found a way to put pucks in the net by the time Vrana returns, he’ll be a prime candidate to be pushed down to the third line (interestingly enough, Zadina actually hasn’t looked bad when he’s been assigned to the bottom-six – obviously not where you want him to stay for good, but it might be a way to kickstart more offensive production).
Whether it’s on the top line or the second, Vrana is going to excel on a team that has taken major steps in the right direction offensively. With some high-end blueliners and a few top tier forwards at his side, Vrana is going to find a ton of points.