Bad news for those hoping for a breakout season from Jakub Vrana. The Wings winger is expected to miss at least four months, as he will undergo shoulder surgery. After being acquired from Washington at the trade deadline, Vrana impressed with his new club, scoring eight goals and 11 points in 11 games. Vrana had been dealing with a shoulder issue that flared up within 10 minutes of his first training camp practice last Saturday.
Vrana was expected to play on the top line, so his injury immediately hurts the value of Dylan Larkin. In addition, the absence of Tyler Bertuzzi for road games in Canada should result in a further downgrade for Larkin. Prospects Lucas Raymond and Joe Veleno should now have slightly better odds of cracking the Wings' opening-night lineup, as should veteran Bobby Ryan (who is on a PTO). If I had to guess, I'd pick Ryan here because he's more of a known NHL quantity, while Raymond may need time to adjust to North America. Having said that, I'd also have to think Raymond is playing for the Wings at some point this season. Or he makes the team out of camp, but also spends time in the AHL.
Filip Zadina will (should?) make the Red Wings because he did so last season. He could also benefit from the Vrana injury in terms of power-play time. For what it's worth, Zadina and Veleno were both used on the first-unit power play (along with Pius Suter and Robby Fabbri) in Thursday's preseason game against Buffalo.
However the even-strength and power-play line combinations shake out, the Wings had the league's second-worst offense last season (2.23 GF/GP). That offense doesn't look like it will improve much with Vrana now on the shelf. This is shaping up to be another rebuilding year for the Wings.