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Why Jakub Vrana Was Healthy Scratch In AHL On Wednesday

Jakub Vrana was a healthy scratch for the Grand Rapids Griffins on Wednesday. More on the former Washington Capitals winger and why he sat out at the AHL level.



The road has not be an easy one for former Washington Capitals and current Detroit Red Wings forward Jakub Vrana, as he has been working his way back from the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program down in the American Hockey League with the Grand Rapids Griffins after clearing waivers. And, on Wednesday, he saw himself sit out as a healthy scratch at the minor league level.

However, it wasn't necessarily a performance-related issue. Here's why he was scratched.

The AHL has a rule regarding how many veteran players can be in the lineup. A "veteran" qualifies as a player who has played over 321 combined NHL, AHL or European League games (ECHL games do not count). Vrana is one of five Griffins veterans, joining forwards Danny O'Regan, Austin Czarnik and Kyle Criscuolo and defenseman Brian Lashoff. Based on that, Grand Rapids is two over the limit for how many can be in the lineup (three).

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Criscuolo and Lashoff sat out the last couple of games, and left winger Elmer Soderblom also re-assigned to the AHL to get some more games under his belt. So ultimately, two forwards had to come out for Criscuolo and Soderblom to slot in, so it was Vrana and O'Regan's turn to sit. Lashoff slotted in on defense.

Still, it's been a rough run for Vrana in the AHL so far, as he has one assist with 12 shots and a +/- of minus-6 since making his return to play. However, he was off the ice for nearly two months, and getting his legs back under him will take time. But, based on the way the rules line up in pro hockey, it looks like Wednesday's decision was more so to manage assets.

It's similar to what the Capitals are currently doing on their roster with Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson back and 14 healthy forwards ready to go. Strangely enough, Anthony Mantha, who was acquired for Vrana at the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline, has been the odd man out and a healthy scratch for two games in D.C. with Peter Laviolette having to make tough lineup decisions.

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