More than three weeks after he was acquired in a trade with the Detroit Red Wings, Filip Hronek is finally ready to make his debut with the Vancouver Canucks.
The 25-year-old defenceman is “raring to go,” according to head coach Rick Tocchet, who confirmed this morning that Hronek will play tonight, at home to the San Jose Sharks.
“[I’m] really excited,” Tocchet told reporters. “He’s going to add a lot to our puck-moving ability. He’s got a great shot. His hockey IQ, on the offensive side, is really good.”
Hronek hasn’t played since February 28, when he was still a member of the Detroit Red Wings, due to an “upper-body” injury. The Czech blueliner joined his Canucks teammates at practice for the first time this week.
A right-shot defenceman, there has been speculation that Hronek may play alongside Quinn Hughes on a new top pairing. They’re both offensively inclined though, so perhaps it’s better to split them up. Hughes was paired with Ethan Bear in Tuesday’s game.
There’s a lot riding on Hronek, who is eligible to sign a contract extension this summer. The Canucks traded the first-round pick they received from the Islanders in the Bo Horvat trade to get him, in addition to their own second-round selection.
The trade confirmed that the Canucks were not willing to take a slow approach to rebuilding their team, which comes with some risk.
There’s no doubt that Hronek, who scored 38 points (9-29-38) in 60 games with Detroit this season, has offensive talent. What remains to be seen is how good Hronek will be defensively, which is where Vancouver has struggled most in recent years.
Hronek has proven that he can play big minutes, which is something he did with regularity with the Red Wings. Hornek averaged 21:32 of ice time this season, which was actually down from the 22:02 he played in 2021-22. He also played 23:23 per game in 2020-21 and 23:54 in 2019-20, on some terrible Detroit teams.
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