First-round pick Jakub Vrana signs with Capitals


First-rounder Jakub Vrana, drafted No. 13 overall last month, has signed a three-year, entry-level deal with the Washington Capitals.

His NHL cap hit would be $832,500 for all three seasons and $70,000 per season in the AHL, according to the Capitals.

The Czech Republic native joins his fellow countryman Vitek Vanecek, a goalie and second-round pick by the Capitals last month, in signing their contracts on Tuesday. Vrana dazzled during development camp last week at the team’s practice facility in Ballston, where he had been living since coming down from Philadelphia following the draft. In particular, a whirling shootout goal on the first day of intrasquad scrimmages turned more than a few heads, including the netminder he was opposing.

“He’s a very engaging young man,” Capitals Coach Barry Trotz said. “He’s very mature beyond his years, but he’s got a personality that I think it would be very hard, if you’re a teammate or a fan or a coach, not to like his personality. He brings a spark to the group. He’s got this great smile and he’s not scared, his social skills are very good. And he’s a good hockey player. You put all those things together and I think he’s headed in the right direction quickly. And he’s been here a little bit, so he’s gotten comfortable with the area and the facilities. I think he’s going to be terrific.”

Vrana spent last season with Linkoping in the Swedish Hockey League, migrating between their junior and senior teams. According to the Capitals, they still plan to loan Vrana to his Swedish club next season, where he would presumably play at the senior level, but “that may change.”

“That’s the plan,” Vrana said during development camp. “First I want to get in here and when I’m going to be ready, we’ll see.”

Ranked fourth among European skaters by NHL Central Scouting, Vrana led the IIHF under-18 world junior championships in goals (eight) and points (10) this winter, helping the Czech Republic to a second-place finish. He and Vanecek are the only two of Washington’s six draft picks to have signed entry-level contracts thus far. It’s expected that both will attend rookie camp in September.

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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