Jakub Vrána is one of the NHL's top goal-scorers; so why did the Capitals trade him?
As the final horn sounded on a trade deadline that seemed destined to go down in the annals of history as one of the league's most uneventful, the Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings came together for a shocking blockbuster, exchanging two prolific scorers and a whole lot of draft capital, too.
The biggest name in the deal was Anthony Mantha, a big-bodied sniper that Mitch Brown covered extensively in this piece, going from Detroit to Washington. Perhaps the most intriguing player to change hands in this deal, though, was Jakub Vrána, a winger with a startling statistical profile that's equal parts elite scoring rates and third-line minutes, going from Washington to Detroit.
The market seems to have determined that the disparity in quality between these two players can best be expressed by a first- and a second-round pick, depending on one's mileage concerning the Richard Pánik cap dump component.
Is there a chance, though, that this represents an inefficiency on the market's part? Is there a chance that Vrána is extremely undervalued? Why are the more analytically inclined among us so excited about this player, and why were the Capitals so dour with his minutes before ultimately scratching him, and then moving him for a comparable player?
To answer these questions I’ll turn to the stats and the game tape, using resources including Evolving-Hockey and TopDownHockey to evaluate Vrána’s analytics and InStat Hockey to compare the numbers to how he looks on the ice, and then manually track some numbers myself.
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