With the 13th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, the Washington Capitals drafted a young player named Jakub Vrana from the Czech Republic. Since joining the Capitals’ lineup in the 2016-2017 season — where he scored three goals and three assists in 21 games played — Vrana has worked his way up to be the second-line left-winger, one line behind star-winger Alex Ovechkin. His stellar performance this season has caught the attention of not only the fans, but also the teams that compete against him on the ice.
The 22-year-old native of the Czech Republic began his Capitals career with the 2014-2015 season, juggling time between their farm team – the Hershey Bears – and the Czech Republic’s World Juniors team. During that season, Vrana played only three total games for the Bears.
Following the 2014-2015 World Junior Championship, where he was a member of the Czech Republic’s team, Jakub would return to the US and focus on playing for the Capitals’ organization, returning to the Hershey Bears for the 2015-2016 season and the beginning of the 2016-2017 season. He was called up to the Capitals on December 1, 2016, making his debut in a home game against the New York Islanders. Vrana would play only 21 games that season.
The 2017-2018 season was Vrana’s first full season in the NHL. He did not garner much attention when he became a regular in Washington’s lineup, but has since proven to be a threat to be reckoned with on the ice. During his first full season, he recorded 13 goals and 14 assists in 73 regular season games. He was a member of the Capitals’ team that would win the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 2018. He had three goals and five assists in the 23 playoff games that it would take the team to win the Cup.
This season, Jakub Vrana is team’s second highest scorer in goals with 15, which is also his career best. In the past two games, he has scored three goals. With Vrana’s current record, he is on pace to end the season with around 28-30 goals. He has become a crucial part of the Capitals’ offense, due to his speed as well as his shooting ability.
Wanna know why Jakub Vrana is developing into a weapon for #Caps this season?? This is why..
— Rob Carlin (@RobCarlinNBCS) December 10, 2018
Coach Todd Reirden commented on Vrana’s dedication this season saying, “He’s a guy who spends a lot of time out there and works at his game, and I think it’s led to the consistency that he’s put together this year, continuing to get scoring chances every night and a valuable offensive asset for us.” As reported by Washington Post Reporter Isabelle Khurshudyan, over the entirety of the 2018-2019 season, Vrana has been dedicated to bettering his game and spends the most time on the ice even after his teammates complete their practices. Khurshudyan wrote in a Dec. 7, 2018 article that the reason Vrana is the last one off the ice stems from a lesson his father taught him at a Czech Republic national team practice. Vrana told Khurshudyan that the lesson was “if you want to be better than the other players, you have to work extra.” This lesson seems to continue to resonate with him today. Vrana’s extra work seems to have paid off, evidenced by his recent performances in games. His teammates respect him and his opponents fear him. Jakub Vrana is a critical component to the Capitals’ success thus far this season.