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The Detroit Red Wings pulled off one of the NHL Trade Deadline's more notable moves last season, acquiring forwards Jakub Vrana and Richard Panik along with a 1st and 2nd round draft pick in exchange for underachieving forward Anthony Mantha.
And though it was a small sample size, Vrana and the Red Wings appear to be a match made in heaven.
Vrana scored eight goals (four in one game against the Dallas Stars) and three assists in the 11 games he appeared in with his new club, and showed that he can be the kind of impactful player that helped the Capitals to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history in 2018. And the team saw fit to reward him with a new three-year contract extension, keeping him in the Motor City through at least 2024.
He's yet to suit up this season thanks to suffering a shoulder injury on his first shift of training camp, and he's been working his way towards a return. Skating in recent weeks with a non-contact jersey, Vrana's next step will be to practice with full contact.
“We’re in a spot where we’ll start in a controlled environment introducing contact, so that could happen over the course of probably two weeks to get him to where it’s full contact,” coach Jeff Blashill said Thursday. “I don’t want to put a direct timeline on it, but it’s the start of the beginning to the end of the injury and hopefully get him ready to play here in the next little bit.”
“The guidance is let’s start getting him into controlled contact and then it’s a progression,” Blashill said. “The progression starts with him initiating contact in a real sterile one-on-one environment and then him receiving contact. This is the stuff that kind of happens after practice. You move from there into a little fuller contact into full contact.
“I don’t want to say two weeks for sure, but that would be kind of a time frame that has been somewhat normal in the part.