Red Wings ship Jakub Vrana to Blues: Why deal makes sense for both sides

The St. Louis Blues have acquired forward Jakub Vrana from the Detroit Red Wings, the teams announced Friday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The Red Wings, who will keep half of Vrana’s salary, will receive minor league forward Dylan McLaughlin and a 2025 seventh-round pick as part of the deal.
  • Vrana, 27, had 32 points (22 goals and 10 assists) in 42 games for the Red Wings over the past three seasons.
  • He was traded to Detroit in 2021 from the Washington Capitals, where he spent more than four seasons and won a Stanley Cup in 2018.

AthleticismInstant analysis of:

Why the Red Wings traded Vrana for so little

Despite his immense offensive talent, the signs have long pointed to Vrana’s days in Detroit being numbered. At some point this year, the Red Wings waived him, showing they were willing to lose him for nothing. The seventh-round pick isn’t much more than that, but by keeping half his salary and trading it in, he’ll be slightly cheaper money-wise than it would have been to buy him back this summer. Notably, maintaining pay means the Red Wings can no longer keep pay in more trades by this deadline, despite their primary job already being done. — Bultman

What the Red Wings can do with cap space

In the past 48 hours, with trades from Vrana, Tyler Bertuzzi and Filip Hronek, the Red Wings have cleared nearly $12 million in additional salary cap space for next season, even with the retention on Vrana. Granted, their departures leave big holes to fill, but Detroit can hunt a free agent (although the 2023 free agent class is generally less exciting than usual) or face a good player whose salary no longer suits a team running out of cap via trade. . — Bultman

Why the Blues wanted Vrana

The Blues are retooling after a disappointing season and general manager Doug Armstrong wants to stay competitive. Vrana was attractive because he’s a talented Stanley Cup winner who needed a change of scenery. With the Red Wings retaining 50% of Vrana’s contract, he comes to a market of $2.625 million in 2023-24, and Armstrong wasn’t going to pass up that opportunity.

When playing, Vrana is an exceptionally talented goalscorer. He scored nearly half a goal per game in Detroit, which would project to more than 40 over an 82-game season. Unfortunately, he never played a full season with the Red Wings, due to preseason shoulder surgery in 2021 and entering the player assistance program this season. His off-puck play has always been a source of frustration, but it’s worth noting that he’s shown a clear effort to improve on that since returning from his AHL stint this year. With a fresh start in St. Louis, the Blues are certainly hoping this talented player can put it all together in a new environment. — Rutherford and Bultman

What this means for the Blues

Last week, the Blues brought in Vrana ($2.625 million) and Kasperi Kapanen ($3.2 million) and re-signed Sammy Blais ($1 million) for a total of $6.825 million. That leaves the Blues with $5.8 million in cap space in 2023-24 with 18 players under contract. Any other significant roster upgrades would require freeing up a salary with the defender trade. — Rutherford


Vrana was drafted by the Capitals 13th overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. In 326 career games, he recorded 98 goals and 91 assists. The Blues signed McLaughlin as a free agent last year. He scored one goal in six games with the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds.

Trade deadline is Friday at 3 p.m. ET: follow here to live updates.

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(Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

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