DETROIT - When Jakub Vrana exploded for four goals against the Dallas Stars just 10 days after being traded to the Detroit Red Wings, the Hockeytown faithful saw the enormous potential that the 25-year-old brought to his new club.
And now, Red Wings fans will continue seeing Vrana's game develop, as the forward agreed to terms on a three-year deal with Detroit on Tuesday.
The former restricted free agent said he's thrilled to get a multi-year deal done, avoiding a looming arbitration hearing, which was set for Wednesday.
"I'm really excited to join this group in upcoming years," Vrana said Wednesday morning. "Obviously it was kind of a process, but I'm happy it works for both sides. I'm happy that it's over with and I can look forward for preparing for the season."
Video: Jakub Vrana discusses signing new deal with Red Wings
Vrana was originally the 13th overall pick of the Washington Capitals in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, and he quickly experienced huge success, winning the Stanley Cup in his first full NHL season in 2017-18.
The 6-foot, 197-pound winger earned 27 points in 73 games during his rookie campaign and added eight points (3-5-8) in 23 postseason games to help the Capitals capture their first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history.
Vrana enjoyed breakout seasons the next two years, earning 47 points in 82 games in 2018-19, and finishing fourth on the Capitals with 52 points in 69 games in 2019-20.
But last season, despite earning 25 points in 39 games for Washington, Vrana was a healthy scratch multiple times and found himself on the Capitals' trade block.
And while Vrana admitted he was surprised by the trade, he quickly embraced his new environment in Detroit and immediately made his presence felt, scoring the game-winning goal in his first action with the Red Wings, leading the club to a 4-1 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks.
"When you go through something like that, you don't really know what to expect," Vrana said. "Everything went kind of quick and since day one, everyone was really kind and helped me to fit in. I just went there and tried to show what I can do. Obviously this team has great potential and a bright future. I'm really happy to join this group."
Video: In View | Jakub Vrana's four-goal game vs. Stars
In just his fourth game with Detroit, Vrana etched his name in the Hockeytown history books, becoming the 26th player in Red Wings history to score four or more goals in a game and only the second player in franchise history to record a hat trick within his first four games with the club.
In addition to his offensive explosion, another aspect that helped the Prague, Czech Republic native quickly become comfortable in Detroit was having two of his countrymen, Filip Zadina and Filip Hronek, as teammates in the Red Wings dressing room.
"It's always nice to have somebody from your country on the team," Vrana said. "You can speak your language and I play with them on the international team so I've been in touch with them before the trade. They're both great people, so they have made the transition easier for me. They're both young guys that have great potential, and I'm looking forward to playing with them in the coming years."
Vrana finished the 2020-21 season with 36 points in 50 games, including 11 points in 11 games with the Red Wings. He tied for sixth in the NHL with seven game-winning goals, three of which came in his 11-game stint with Detroit.
After the season, the winger represented his country in the 2021 IIHF World Championship in Latvia, helping lead Team Czech Republic to the quarterfinals with four points in seven games.
This summer, Vrana has been honing his craft in Sweden, training with the same coach he's worked with since he was 15 years old. The young Czech said he's working on little things to fine-tune his game, and he can't wait to prove the Red Wings made the right decision in signing him to a multi-year contract.
Video: TBL@DET: Vrana makes nifty move for shootout goal
"There is always something to work on. I work on the little things," Vrana said about his offseason training. "For me, the opportunity to play for the Red Wings is a little different than in Washington. I get more ice time. My role has changed a little bit and I'm looking forward to proving what I can do and show my potential. I'm looking forward to building something."