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Jakub Vrana, like David Pastrnak, is a Czech-born prospect who has gone to Sweden to play his club hockey. He is playing for Linkopings in the SHL. Vrana started the season in the Swedish Under-20 league and was at over a point per game pace when he was called up to the SHL squad. While he scored just three points in 24 games, however given his age he isn’t getting a lot of ice time in the top Swedish League, and its not a league that usually sees results from 17-year-olds. Vrana already has a ton of international experience with 8 points in 6 games at the 2012 IIHF Under 18 Championships, and appearances for the Czech Republic at the 2013 and 2014 World Juniors, 2013 Under 18s and this summer’s Hlinka. He is currently playing in the 2014 IIHF Under 18s and has five goals and one assist in four games of round robin group play.
Right Wing — shoots Left
Born Feb 28 1996 — Prague, Czech Republic
Height 6.00 — Weight 181 [183 cm/82 kg]
Jakub Vrana is an outstanding skater. He has very good top end speed, but its his elite acceleration and change of pace ability that really sets him apart and allows him to beat defenders one on one. He also has outstanding agility, edgework and lateral movement and this makes him very elusive off the rush. Vrana has decent balance, but he could be a lot stronger on the puck if he can add muscle and core lower body strength.
Vrana is a natural centre but can also play on the wing. His stickhandling is excellent, he has a wide variety of moves and is very good at protecting the puck. Vrana has very good vision and the passing skills to be a creative playmaker. His wrist shot is very strong and accurate, and he has the type of lightning-quick release that often fools goaltenders. Vrana really needs to add physical strength though. He can be manhandled in corners and in front of the net at his current size. He will need to improve this to be able to adjust to the North American pro game, and even to score more points in the SHL. Its not for lack of effort though, Vrana isn’t afraid to go to those dirty areas, and he isn’t intimidated, its merely a factor of adding muscle. He does have good hockey sense.
Vrana’s defensive game needs work. At the lower levels he’s the type of player who always had the puck, and as such never really learned proper defensive positioning, or the effort level he needs to give in his own end of the ice. It is certainly something that can be taught, and with good coaching this aspect of his game can be improved.
Vrana plays the game similar to Ales Hemsky of the Ottawa Senators. This is a stylistic comparison and not necessarily one about his talent or ceiling. He could become a top six forward in the NHL and a dynamic scorer if he can reach his full potential going forward.
Here are some highlights of Jakub Vrana in action:
Check back tomorrow for my number 23 ranked prospect.
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