Detroit — The Red Wings will be without forward Jakub Vrana indefinitely, after the NHL and NHL Players Association announced Wednesday he will receive care from the player assistance program of the NHL and NHLPA.
Under the terms of the joint program, Vrana will continue to be paid while receiving treatment. In the joint announcement from the NHL/NHLPA, Vrana will return to the Wings when cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.
Vrana’s care will be administered pursuant to the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program.
The Red Wings released a brief statement Wednesday evening.
“The Detroit Red Wings are aware that Jakub Vrana has been placed in the NHL and NHLPA’s Player Assistance Program, and that he will be out indefinitely. The Red Wings will have no further comment on this matter,” the statement said.
Vrana didn’t play Monday against Los Angeles and didn’t participate in Tuesday’s practice (the team had the day off Wednesday) due to what the Wings called “personal reasons.”
The Wings removed Vrana from the active roster on the team website earlier Wednesday.
In the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement, a player can be designated a “non-roster” player if he is unavailable due to any reason other than illness, injury or disability. That player, then, isn’t counted against the active roster limit.
Vrana played over 11 minutes in Saturday’s 5-2 victory in New Jersey, scoring his first goal of the season and adding an assist.
Vrana has only played 39 games since arriving at the trade deadline in April 2021, in the deal that sent Anthony Mantha to Washington. He missed the first 56 games of last season due to shoulder surgery after sustaining an injury within the first 10 minutes of training camp.
But in those 39 games a Red Wing, Vrana has scored 22 goals with 10 assists, showing glimpses of being a prolific goal-scorer with one of the most dangerous shots in the NHL.
The Wings are also currently without Tyler Bertuzzi, who is expected to miss approximately a month with an upper-body injury. Filip Zadina and Joe Veleno have essentially drawn back into the lineup, replacing Vrana and Bertuzzi Monday against Los Angeles.
Oskar Sundqvist is one of the larger personalities on the Wings.
Sundqvist is the type of player which every locker room needs. He’s able to deflect pressure and lighten the mood during difficult times.
Sundqvist missed most of training camp and the exhibition season because of an undisclosed injury. His return to the lineup during the first week of the regular season was instantly noted by Lalonde.
“We have a quiet group, we have some naturally reserved personalities,” Lalonde said. “The second he (Sundqvist) came into our room, it was a huge spark. With a lot of new faces, young faces, having that big personality is very valuable.”
Forward David Perron was a teammate of Sundqvist’s for the past several seasons in St. Louis. The two were on a line during the Blues’ run to a Stanley Cup victory in 2019. Perron speaks glowingly of what kind of teammate Sundqvist is.
“I’m his biggest fan,” Perron said. “We lived on the same street in St. Louis. He’s just a guy that gets it done in all aspects of the game. Any time I can talk positive of him, I’m always going to do it. He’s a great guy off the ice, too. Gets everyone laughing, gets the boys nice and loose and then the moment he steps on the ice, he goes to work.”
Some of those days when Sundqvist comes off the ice, be it games or practices, can be an adventure.
“You don’t know if one day he’s going to walk or not, the way he’s walking off the ice,” Perron said. “But then he’s out there skating his hardest.”
The Wings return to practice Thursday, then fly to Chicago where they face the Blackhawks on Friday.
… Lalonde made an interesting point regarding the Red Wings’ free-agent additions. The Wings were coming off a losing season (and a particularly disappointing second half) and their sixth consecutive non-playoff appearance. It would have been easy to look elsewhere for a job.
But the fact they chose to sign with the Wings shows their character and desire, Lalonde said.
“As a free agent, you choose to sign here in the middle of trying to build something and you know what you signed up for, so there’s a little will in that,” Lalonde said. “They’ve accepted that challenge, or that reality of why they chose to come here. They’re helping us along with that process.”
… One of those free agents, defenseman Olli Maatta, has four points (one goal, three assists) and is the first Wings defenseman to record a point in each of the first three games of the season since Brian Rafalski in 2008-09.
“It’s part of us playing on our toes,” Lalonde said. “Sometimes you think that an offensive defenseman is jumping in the rush or beating people out of the zone, like (Colorado’s) Cale Makar creates his offense out of his zone going north.
“Sometimes it’s just supporting and being up in the play. As part of our structure, he (Maatta) is doing it. Simple is predictable and he’s helping us along with our offense.”