Early in the morning of trade deadline day, the St. Louis Blues and the Detroit Red Wings agreed to a deal. The Blues will receive 27-year-old forward Jakub Vrana in exchange for 27-year-old forward Dylan McLaughlin and a 2025 seventh-round pick. Detroit will also be retaining 50 percent of Vrana’s salary.
Vrana has spent his seven-year career split between the Washington Capitals and Red Wings. In 326 career regular-season games, he’s scored 98 goals and 189 points. He’s also logged three goals and eight points in 38 career playoff games and was a member of the Capitals’ Stanley Cup-winning team in 2017-18. The best season of his career came in 2019-20 when he scored 25 goals and 52 points in 69 games. He was dealt to Detroit during the 2020-21 season who then signed him to a three-year, $15.75 million deal that summer. Since then, he’s dealt with a shoulder injury and a stay in the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program, causing him to miss most of this season.
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Change of Scenery Should Benefit Vrana, Blues
During two-plus years in Detroit, Vrana only played 42 games, but still managed to score 22 goals and 32 points in that time. In what would have been his first full season with the Red Wings, Vrana injured his shoulder in training camp and was sidelined until March of 2022, logging just 26 games and 19 points that season. In October, he stepped away from the team and entered the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program and was reinstated in December. He rejoined the big club in February of 2023, seeing time in three games before the news came out that he would be moving southwest to St. Louis.
All parties involved are hopeful that a change of scenery will benefit the Czechia native. In joining the Blues, Vrana should instantly fit somewhere in their top nine, ideally on the left wing. The hope is that a new team and new surroundings will help him regain the form he had during his time in Washington where he scored 76 goals and 159 points in 284 games. When fully healthy, Vrana projects to be a 25-30 goal scorer from the left side. With the Blues committing to a re-tool, he should get plenty of opportunity to regain his form and prove his worth, for both this season and next.
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The Return for the Red Wings
In return, the Red Wings received 27-year-old forward Dylan McLaughlin and a 2025 seventh-round pick. McLaughlin has yet to appear in an NHL game. Hailing from Lancaster, New York, he was undrafted out of Canisius College and has spent the last four seasons in the ECHL and American Hockey League (AHL). In six games for the Springfield Thunderbirds this season, he has scored one goal. The Red Wings also announced that McLaughlin won’t be going anywhere, as he has been loaned back to Springfield. The seventh-round pick will give them two in 2025. They currently sit with nine picks in that draft.
This trade has a lot of upside for the Blues and allows the Red Wings to get some money off of their books for both this season and 2023-24. Over the last two days, they’ve been busy re-signing captain Dylan Larkin to a lucrative extension while also shipping out forward Tyler Bertuzzi and defenseman Filip Hronek. These moves have opened up some holes that they may look to fill in free agency this summer.