It’s been two years since the Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings completed a “blockbuster trade” that was supposed to help both sides. In a desperation move minutes before the deadline the Caps sent Richard Panik, a 2021 first rounder, a 2022 second rounder, and fan favorite Jakub Vrana to the Red Wings for the services of Anthony Mantha.
Panik is not even playing in the NHL so not a big loss there. But losing Vrana was big. But how did this trade even happen in the first place? Why would you trade a speedy youngster in Vrana?
There was some tension between head coach Peter Laviolette and Vrana leading to healthy scratches multiple times. In an overtime win over the New Jersey Devils on March 9, 2021, Vrana had the game winner and if you watch the video of the goal you can see him staring at one direction the whole time, appearing to potentially stare down the coach. Yikes.
Now I’m not on Laviolette’s side by any means. But any time you stare down a coach whether you’re right or wrong something is going to happen. In the Capitals case that was to trade Vrana for Mantha.
Before we elaborate more on Vrana let’s talk about Mantha for a second. The reason he was brought in was because for some reason general manger Brian MacLellan thought they needed better size and physicality. That was the only thing Mantha had.
He can score goals but only in spurts. He’ll go on a streak to wow you every once and a while. For the most part, he’s hardly noticeable on the ice unless it’s getting beat or turning the puck over.
Back to Vrana. Since that trade he finished that 2021 season with eight goals for the Red Wings. He followed that up with 13 goals in 26 games last season as he dealt with injuries. This season he only has a goal in five games as he’s struggled off the ice requiring him to take some time away from the game.
When he got back he was scratched from the lineup multiple times and placed on waivers to get sent down to the AHL. Over the trade deadline this year he was sent to the St. Louis Blues. We hope he gets his career back on track.
Regardless, this was just simply a bad trade for both sides and the real winner is the Blues who have a chance to help save a bright kid’s future.