Detroit — Jakub Vrana and Richard Panik, the newest Red Wings, skated for the first time with teammates Wednesday and they seemed pleased to do so.
A new team, a fresh start and the real possibility they’re going to get a bigger chance to contribute than they did in Washington.
Vrana and Panik came over from Washington (along with a 2021 first-round pick and 2022 second-round pick) for Anthony Mantha just before Monday’s trade deadline.
“I really was kind of shocked, but at the same time, it’s a great opportunity,” said Vrana, who skated on a line with Michael Rasmussen and Valtteri Filppula. “I’m looking forward to it. I was kind of shocked, but that’s how it is. It’s part of this business and I’m excited to join this group and do some big things.”
Vrana had just gotten vaccinated Monday when he received a call from Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan about the trade.
“Mixed emotions,” Vrana said of his initial feelings. “I was drafted to that club and had a relationship with the city and with the guys there. So at the moment, like I said, I was shocked.
“But when Steve (Yzerman, the Wings’ general manager) called me, and when somebody wants to give you a chance and wants you in their organization, wants to play for their team, it just gives me excitement to come here and do my best to help this group build something here.”
Vrana appeared confused by MacLellan’s comments after the trade, saying Vrana was “frustrated” in Washington and probably needed a change of scenery.
“I have read that, that there was something going on, but I don’t really know what happened,” Vrana said. “If that was the main reason, or what was the reason, I don’t know. This is not something I worry about. I want to play hockey. I want to play my best on the ice. If that is what Brian thought, I don’t really know what to say. It’s his thoughts and verdict, and let’s just move on and move forward.”
Panik had two years remaining on the four-year, $11 million ($2.75 million salary cap hit) contract he signed two seasons ago — a deal the Capitals wanted to get out of.
Panik, 30, had three goals and six assists this season and welcomed the move as well.
“Really excited to be here,” said Panik, who skated with Vladislav Namestnikov and Sam Gagner during Wednesday’s practice. “It didn’t work out in Washington. Sometimes things don’t click and hopefully this will be a new chapter for me, a new beginning, and it’s going to go well for both sides.”
Panik was placed on waivers by the Capitals last week — he obviously went unclaimed — giving him an inkling something could happen by Monday.
“I knew I might be part of the trade deadline,” Panik said. “I wasn’t sure but I was kind of expecting it. It wasn’t like it was a real surprise. But like I said, it just didn’t work out for me and it’s good for both sides to kind of go (opposite ways).
“A new beginning, fresh, and I want to prove myself I can play at this level and win as many games as I can.”
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