Detroit Red Wings’ Jakub Vrana looks good, but Jeff Blashill will not stamp a return date

Detroit Free Press

TAMPA, Fla. — Soaking up some warm sunshine is an obvious appeal, but beyond the vitamin boost, it’s a continuing good sign that Jakub Vrana skated Friday morning.

With the Detroit Red Wings playing back-to-back nights, there is limited practice time on this trip, but Vrana was part of the full morning skate at Amalie Arena. He hasn’t played this season after undergoing shoulder surgery in October, but he’s been on the ice for two months now.

“I don’t have a specific time frame yet,” coach Jeff Blashill said, “but every day he’s out there, he moves closer. We’ll see.”

VRANA EAGER: Jakub Vrana can’t wait to join Red Wings lineup

It’s coming up on a year since general manager Steve Yzerman acquired Vrana at the 2021 trade deadline, when Vrana showed off his offensive skill with 11 points in 11 games. He was earmarked to be on the top line coming into this season — but 10 minutes into camp, Vrana left with a shoulder injury that required surgery. On advice from Yzerman, Vrana started traveling with the Wings in January, and he’s seen been cleared to shoot the puck.

But final clearance to join the lineup is pending.

“We’re still working towards that,” Blashill said. “He’s on the ice. He’s spent time in practice with us. I just would hate to put a real date on it and lock myself into that.”

Yzerman, Wings have options ahead of NHL trade deadline ]

Should the Wings be fully healthy, Vrana’s return will bump someone from the lineup. The natural move would be to put him with Dylan Larkin and Lucas Raymond, leaving intact Tyler Bertuzzi, Pius Suter and Robby Fabbri on the second line. The third line could then feature Vladislav Namestnikov, Filip Zadina and Joe Veleno, and the fourth line, Sam Gagner with any two of Michael Rasmussen, Adam Erne, Carter Rowney or Givani Smith. There is the possibility, though, that Yzerman makes a trade before the March 21 deadline – Namestnikov, for one, is a pending unrestricted free agent.

Contact Helene St. James at 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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