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Capitals' Vrana will get chance in preseason games

by Staff

The Washington Capitals likely will have Jakub Vrana, their 2014 first-round pick (No. 13), spend at least one more season with his team in the Swedish Elite League, where he will play with and against more physically mature competition.

First, though, they'll see how he looks against those kind of players on NHL-size ice. That starts Tuesday when the Capitals rookies face a team of Philadelphia Flyers rookies. Vrana also likely see action in preseason games, which start for Washington on Sept. 21.

"We'll see how I look," Vrana told "When I play those games I'll see what I need to improve on. I don't really know because I haven't tried. I will see when I'm with those guys on the ice and I play a game."

Capitals assistant general manager Ross Mahoney was sold on Vrana after watching the 5-foot-11, 185-pound forward score a tournament-high eight goals in seven games for the Czech Republic at the 2014 IIHF World Under-18 Championship. He also is No. 44 on the Top 60 prospect ranking.

"He had the advantage of playing some games last year with men," Mahoney said. "It will be another good test for him to see how he plays against the big fellas."

How he handles himself in the preseason could determine if the Capitals opt to keep him in Washington. Vrana has the skillset to play on the top two lines of an NHL team, but with a crowded top-six forward group, the likelihood is a return to Sweden for Vrana.

"If he's not playing probably in a top-six situation for us, then the chance of him staying is minimized," coach Barry Trotz said.

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