One of the top Euro forwards available in the draft, Jakub Vrana possesses a strong offensive flair that at one point had him ranked near the top 10 in this draft.
Vrana has serious playmaking ability and is a smooth skater in open space, which helps create chances whenever he is on the ice. Playing in the SHL, he has gotten a taste of professional hockey at what many consider to be the second best league in the world after the NHL. He only had 3 points in the SHL, but you have to remember, he was 17 playing against players a decade older than he is, it would be unrealistic to expect his numbers to shine in that situation.
But on the Linköping junior team, he averaged over a point per game, which is a league that is much closer to his age group. So the offensive talent is obviously there. The one drawback is his inconsistency, especially on the defensive side. Not much of a surprise here, especially for a skilled winger playing in an advanced league.
I feel like a running theme in forward analysis’ so far is that all seem to have the same issues -- strong on offense, weak on defense. It's probably the reason we are talking about them being available at No. 17 instead of at the top of the draft. And the inconsistency ... well, I don’t watch many SHL games, and the numbers for non ultra-professional leagues are pretty impressive. I’ll leave that up to the scouts analysis for this, but the scoring numbers over the season and WJC’s don’t really point to inconsistent to me.
Born – 2-28-1996
Nationality - Czech Republic
Height – 6’0"
Weight – 176 lbs
Position – Forward (RW,LW)
Team(s) – Linköping(SHL); Czech Republic (WJC)
Well you wanted a top-flight winger, here’s your winger folks! Forget about the fact that the larger European rinks put more emphasis on the wing position while the smaller NA rinks mean the center position is the most important and that 90% of CHL centers can play wing very easily at the NHL level (I seriously die a little inside every time somebody says centers can’t play wing in the pros though). Vrana is a true blue winger. Besides the fact that he doesn’t take faceoffs regularly, he’s also a very good playmaker. He’s not the pure sniper that i think we are looking for, but he can definitely become a player that will boost the stat sheets of his teammates.
Another benefit to Vrana is that he plays in the SHL, which stated above, is the closest step to the NHL. Getting prime development in such a strong league is never a bad thing. That said, the Flyers do like to work with their own players as soon as they can. They brought Hagg over after just one year in the same league, so maybe they will try and do the same with Vrana if they draft him.
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