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On Monday, the Washington Capitals made a deal at the NHL Trade Deadline to send forwards Jakub Vrana and Richard Panik, along with a 2021 first-round and 2022 second-round pick, to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for forward Anthony Mantha.
Vrana, a fan favorite, spent four plus seasons in Washington and will be missed by the Capitals faithful. To commemorate his career in D.C., here are five of Jakub Vrana’s best moments as a Capital:
5. Jake drops the gloves
Vrana stands at 6-foot, 197 pounds. He is by no means known for his fighting. But in a regular-season clash with rival Tampa Bay in 2019, with the Capitals down 4-3, ‘Jake the Snake’ took matters into his own hands during a tussle in front of the Caps’ bench. Yanni Gourde of the Lightning stands at just 5-foot-9 himself, but as Pierre McGuire said during the fight, “Vrana better be tough ‘cause Yanni Gourde can throw right hands.” Vrana was tough, and proved it here.
4. Vrana conquers Bruins in the shootout
You’ll want to rewind the video to watch this one a few times. In the fifth round of a dazzling shootout in Boston’s TD Garden in 2019, Washington turned to Vrana. With Oshie, Backstrom, Kuznetsov and Ovechkin already used in the shootout, the 23-year-old Czech had the chance to put the Caps in the driver’s seat, and boy did he. Leaving Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak in the dust after a filthy dangle with his forehand, Vrana’s goal, followed by Braden Holtby’s stop on Chris Wagner, sealed the deal.
3. Jakub gets his hatty
Two weeks before Vrana scored that beautiful shootout goal, he had three-of-a-kind in D.C. against the Flames. In front of a packed, red-clad crowd, Vrana scored his first off a beautiful feed from Evgeny Kuznetsov to tie the game at one a piece.
‘Kuzy’ would help Vrana out on his second as well, with a nifty backhand pass that Vrana slotted away from a severe angle on Calgary goalie Cam Talbot. Finally, before the second period even concluded, Vrana found himself in alone on a breakaway, and after the first bid was stopped, his rebound attempt found its way to the back of the net. The hats reigned down from the Capitals’ faithful, including the recently crowned World Series champion Washington Nationals, en route to a 4-2 Caps win.
2. Vrana gives his stick to a young cancer patient
This one went beyond hockey. Along with teammate Tom Wilson, Vrana hoisted his stick over the glass during warmups for a game in March 2019—a gift for a young fan, whose poster read “I skipped (moved) chemo for the Caps!!!” It was personal for Vrana, for his own mother Jana Vranova was diagnosed with cancer in her lymph nodes in 2015.
1. Vrana starts the scoring in a Cup-clinching victory
Easily the most important goal of Jakub Vrana’s 2017-18 season, if not his whole career. With Washington leading the Vegas Golden Knights 3-1 in the Stanley Cup Final, game five was underway in Sin City.
The Capitals were on the cusp of winning their first Cup in franchise history, and it was Vrana who scored the inaugural goal in what would ultimately be the championship-clinching win. Kuznetsov to Wilson, Wilson to Vrana, Vrana on a breakway…top shelf, Caps lead 1-0. It was one of those goals where Capitals fans remember where they were, and how loud they were, when it was scored. Jakub would hoist the Cup hours later.
BONUS VRANA: The Stanley Cup Celebrations
When you win the best trophy in all of sports, it’s expected that you celebrate accordingly. Jakub Vrana did just that, including going to Tattoo Paradise in D.C. to get the Cup permanently etched on his left wrist. During the Stanley Cup parade in the National Mall, Vrana’s introduction was followed by a flossing demonstration in front of 100,000 people.
Jakub Vrana made his mark on the city of Washington, and it’s without a doubt Capitals fans wish him all the best for the remainder of his career in Detroit and beyond.