Red Wings, Jakub Vrana agree to 3-year contract, avoid arbitration

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Red Wings and forward Jakub Vrana found middle ground and avoided a messy arbitration hearing.

Vrana, a restricted free agent, was scheduled for an arbitration hearing Wednesday with his still relatively new team. But the two sides came to an agreement Tuesday on a three-year contract worth $15.75 million ($5.25 million per season salary cap hit).

The Red Wings and left wing Jakub Vrana reached a deal Tuesday on a three-year contract.

Vrana submitted a figure of $5.7 million for next season, in arbitration, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, while the Wings offered $3.65 million.

By getting Vrana to agree to a three-year contract, the Wings have Vrana under team control for one year past his eligibility to become an unrestricted free agent.

The Wings acquired Vrana minutes before the March trade deadline expired, sending forward Anthony Mantha to Washington. Forward Richard Panik and two draft picks also came to Detroit.

Vrana quickly made an impression with the Wings.

“He’s got some of that ability to self-generate, because of his speed,” said coach Jeff Blashill late last season “That’s what speed guys can do. They don’t need, necessarily, great passes. They can self-generate, and he’s done that a little bit.

"Some guys need 10 shots to score, some guys can score on one shot, and he’s one of those guys that really has a special ability to score goals.”

Vrana, 25, had eight goals (including four in one game) and three assists, for 11 points in 11 games with the Wings. Vrana's goal-scoring ability was apparent quickly, and he showed a willingness and desire to play a sound, two-way game that apparently wasn't always shown in Washington.

“We’ve had a number of meetings, we’ve gone over some things, and he’s done a real good job of being receptive,” Blashill said in the season's final days about Vrana's desire to be a complete player. “He truly wants feedback and he wants to get better at things.

"He's a really talented player, and that’s a fact. He needs to keep working on his all-around game, but he’s a really talented player. He can be a real key addition, and what I like most about him is he’s been very receptive to coaching. He wants to get better in those areas that he needs to get better at so he can be out there more, and he’s done a good job of that.

“I’ve learned he cares and he wants to be better and that’s a huge part of it.”

For the season, Vrana had 19 goals and 17 assists (36 points) in 50 games between the Red Wings and Capitals.

Vrana appeared surprised by the trade to the Wings, but quickly warmed to joining his new organization and teammates, and the potential to play a bigger role than what Vrana had in Washington.

Several times in the season's final weeks, Vrana talked about his excitement about the Wings' future and being part of a promising rebuild with the organization.

"We're trying to build something here," Vrana said after the trade. "There is some young guys coming into the league, getting to know the league. They're learning here. We're trying to get better, trying to work on things we can do better out there. Everyone has work ethic here, everyone is going out there working hard and trying to win every battle, and trying to work for every inch out there.

"That can create great momentum."

Vrana just completed a two-year contract worth $6.7 million ($3.35 million salary cap hit).

With Vrana's signing, the Wings' lone remaining restricted free agent who has an arbitration case is forward Adam Erne (Aug. 21). The two sides are likely to come to an agreement.

Defenseman Filip Hronek and forward Givani Smith are restricted free agents with no arbitration rights.

Twitter: @tkulfan