The first official trade of deadline day has come across the wire. As made official by the team this morning, the St. Louis Blues have acquired forward Jakub Vrana from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for forward Dylan McLaughlin and a 2025 seventh-round pick. Per Chris Johnston on TSN’s TradeCentre program, the Red Wings retain 50% of Vrana’s $5.25MM cap hit.
Of note, McLaughlin won’t actually be leaving the Blues organization. After announcing the trade, the Red Wings immediately loaned McLaughlin back to the Blues AHL affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds.
Vrana’s acquisition continues a newfound trend of reclamation projects in St. Louis as the team enters a new era without Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko. He’s had an incredibly difficult 2022-23, entering the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program just a few weeks into the season. After more than a two-month absence, he was waived and sent to the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins to extend his stay in the minors after a conditioning stint. He posted six goals and 11 points in 17 games there and didn’t record a point in three outings after his recent recall to Detroit.
It’s a season that’s made many forget Vrana scored 20-plus goals in back-to-back seasons in 2019 and 2020, and had 13 goals in just 26 games in 2021-22. The 27-year-old may be on a steep cap hit with a concerning injury history, but he has obvious scoring potential if he can string some games together with an increased role in St. Louis.
While the return for Detroit is minimal, especially after parting with Anthony Mantha to acquire him, the trade provides the Red Wings with some salary cap benefits. Elite Prospects’ Sean Shapiro reports that the Red Wings and Vrana were likely headed for a buyout had he not been traded, leaving Detroit with a shorter cap penalty in a retained salary transaction. It’s a good solution for both sides, with a 2025 seventh-round pick just a hair above “future considerations” in terms of value.