Jakub Vrana thriving — others aren’t — of four Detroit Red Wings traded at deadline

Detroit Free Press

Two weeks have passed since the Detroit Red Wings dealt four players at the trade deadline — that’s not much time — but enough for at least one of those players to make an impression.

Jakub Vrana, whose two years with the Wings were marked by turbulence, has four goals in five games since a challenging start to his time with the St. Louis Blues (he was traded the morning of the deadline, March 3, and the winter storm that blanketed much of the country that day caused him to be delayed in catching up with the Blues, who were on a west coast trip at the time).

Vrana scored twice Wednesday, giving him four goals his last four games. He had to wear a full face mask after taking a skate blade to the face during the morning skate.

How it wentWhy Steve Yzerman made these four moves for Detroit Red Wings at trade deadline

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Vrana put up similar numbers with the Wings: 8 goals in 11 games after arriving at the 2021 trade deadline, when Yzerman acquired Vrana, a 2021 first-round pick an a 202 second-round pick from the Washington Capitals for Anthony Mantha. Vrana followed up with 13 goals in 26 games in 2021-22.

But as talented as he was, Vrana’s time with the Wings was marked by absences. He showed up late for camp in 2021, and left after 10 minutes on the ice because of a shoulder injury that had nagged since the end of the previous season. He ended up needing surgery, and didn’t play until March 1.

This season, he was placed in the players assistance program Oct. 15, and reinstated Dec. 16. He played two games before, scoring once, and three games after, yielding one goal in five games.

On March 3, the Wings agreed to retain 50% of Vrana’s contract, which runs through 2023-24 with a $5.25 million salary cap hit. The return was a seventh-round pick in 2025 and a minor-league player — basically, the least possible. Yzerman kept his comments at the time limited.

“I don’t think I can really go into details on a lot of the things that have gone on,” Yzerman said. “I would just say I wish Jakub the best of luck in his hockey career and on and off the ice. It was just time for both parties to move on.”

More:What Steve Yzerman said about Jakub Vrana’s time with Detroit Red Wings

The Blues, who the Wings play Tuesday in St. Louis and host March 23, are 2-3 since acquiring Vrana, but the Blues were headed for the draft lottery before the deadline.

The Boston Bruins, on the other hand, wanted Tyler Bertuzzi to help their chances in the playoffs. Yzerman swung that deal the morning of March 2, agreeing to retain 50% of Bertuzzi’s salary (his contract expires at the end of the season) for a conditional first-round pick in the 2024 NHL draft (top-10 protected) and a fourth-round pick in 2025.

Bertuzzi had an assist in his debut, and another assist Wednesday, giving him two points in five games. The Bruins are 2-3 since acquiring Bertuzzi, and just suffered their first back-to-back regulation losses of the season, one of which was Sunday when they lost to the Wings.

Yzerman also traded top-four defenseman Filip Hronek and a 2023 fourth-round pick to the Vancouver Canucks for a conditional first-round pick (it becomes an unprotected 2024 first-round pick if it is in the top 12 this year) and a second-round pick in the 2023 draft. Hronek has yet to play for the Canucks, because he left the last game he played with the Wings, Oct. 28 at the Ottawa Senators, with an injury. The Canucks were headed for the draft lottery, too.

That leaves Oskar Sundqvist, who was dealt just before the deadline to the Minnesota Wild for a fourth-round pick in the 2023 draft. He just scored his first goal in a Wild uniform Wednesday, in the 8-5 victory over Vrana’s Blues. Sundqvist has a goal and two assists in five games with the Wild, which are battling for first place in the Central Division.

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her latest book, “On the Clock: Behind the Scenes with the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Draft,” is available from  Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.

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