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Behind-the-Scenes Reason Capitals Wanted to Move Jakub Vrana

Why were the Washington Capitals so quick to let Jakub Vrana leave, along with a number of other assets for one player?

Jakub Vrana Washington Capitals trade
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What was likely a topic the Washington Capitals weren’t keen on openly discussing is no longer much of a secret. One of the biggest trades on deadline day was the deal that sent Jakub Vrana, Richard Panik, a 1st round pick and a 2nd for Anthony Mantha of the Detroit Red Wings. It was a big cost to land one player, but there was a few reasons the Caps were not only open to the deal, but happy to make it.

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The Capitals gave up a lot for Mantha, who has already paid dividends with two points in a 6-1 routing over the Philadelphia Flyers. Still, Vrana was considered a good player. Some pundits who looked at the deal wondered if he could be of equal value to Mantha at some point in his NHL career and if the Red Wings didn’t win this trade, hands down.

So the question remains, why were the Capitals open to giving up such a large haul, including Vrana?

Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan didn’t shy away from talking about the trade and hinted that the team needed to move Vrana. He discussed how “frustrated” Vrana appeared to be, that they’d given that relationship a try and that the results didn’t provide evidence this was a partnership that should keep moving forward. Specifically, Vrana’s body language and a tug of war with the coaching staff made it clear it was best to move on.

The Money Also Played a Role

It wasn’t just about the player’s attitude though. Questions internally about heavily investing in a player where there was friction didn’t seem like the right path for the Capitals to take. And, because Mantha is locked in on a longer-term deal, the cost certainty that came with adding him helps the Capitals organization work toward other contract extensions, specifically Alex Ovechkin.

The Capitals have their guy now. They gave up a lot to get him, but if he bounces back into 2019-20 form, it might be worth the price the Capitals paid. As for Vrana, if he lights it up in Detroit, it will be interesting to see if the Caps look back at this deal and wonder if they should have had a little more patience.

Next: Biggest Winners and Losers: 2021 NHL Trade Deadline

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