Brutal injury news for the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday as head coach Jeff Blashill announced winger Jakub Vrana is going to be sidelined for at least four months. Vrana is going to be undergoing shoulder surgery that is going to take a significant portion of his season away from him, and take one of the Red Wings’ most important players out of the lineup.
“He’s a guy that, going into the season, we had penciled into some big roles with the opportunity to score goals for us,” Blashill said on Thursday, via the Detroit Free Press. “Certainly, we’d be in a better spot today as we stand if he were healthy and ready to go. But he’s not and that’s just the reality of life. One of our biggest things we do as a team is – we certainly care about the guys that are out – but we worry about the guys that are available to us and who can get it done. It opens up a top-six spot and a power play spot for somebody.”
One of the players that could fill that spot is veteran winger Bobby Ryan who is back in Detroit camp on a professional tryout contract.
[Related: Every free agent signing by all 32 NHL teams]
There is no way to sugarcoat this injury news for the Red Wings, though. Vrana was going to be counted on to carry a significant portion of the offense this season after making a great first impression with the team a year ago.
The Red Wings acquired him from the Washington Capitals at the NHL trade deadline in the blockbuster deal that sent Anthony Mantha to the nation’s capital.
Vrana has always been an exceptional talent but struggled to find a set role and consistency with the Capitals. He also seemed to have fallen out of favor with the current coaching staff. When he arrived in Detroit, however, he took his new role and ran with it, scoring eight goals to go with three assists in 11 regular season games.
Getting an opportunity to be a top-line player and a go-to player in Detroit’s offense made him a breakout candidate entering this season, while 30-35 goals seemed to be within reach.
Now an already thin Red Wings lineup gets even thinner. They are going to need Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi, and new addition Pius Suter to be even better in the first half of season to make up for Vrana’s absence, while also hoping that Filip Zadina can take a significant step forward.