An attempt to ballpark Filip Hronek’s next contract (with the Canucks or another NHL team)

Photo credit:© Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
1 month ago
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That we aren’t talking more about free agency every single day in Vancouver is a testament to just how well the Canucks are doing on the ice.
In most other seasons, a team with 11 pending free agents on the roster would spend the entire season worrying about the offseason to come, and so would their fans and local media. But what the Canucks are doing right here and right now is so exciting that the summer of 2024 seems real far away.
But it will come all the same, and so will the inevitable contract negotiations.
The good news is that the biggest fish is out of the water already. Elias Pettersson signed an eight-year, $92.8 million extension two weeks ago, ending the only free agency-related storyline that had really taken hold in Vancouver amidst all the wins and goals.
Now, much of that limited spotlight falls to the next-most prominent free agent in Filip Hronek.
When the Canucks acquired Hronek from Detroit last March, he was in the second year of a three-year contract extension that paid him an average of $4.4 million.
Suffice it to say that a lot has happened since then, and Hronek has put himself in line for a significant raise.
How significant?
Today, we take our first crack at ballparking Hronek’s next contract.
Prior to arriving in Vancouver, Hronek had played parts of four seasons in Detroit, where he held a career-high of 38 points, achieved for the Red Wings in both 2021/22 and 2022/23.
In 2023/24, his first full season with Vancouver, Hronek is already up to five goals, 40 assists, and 45 points through 67 games.
It seems all that certain that Hronek will cross the 50-point threshold. As of now, he’s on pace for about 55 total.
And while raw point totals are typically a bad way to assess any NHL defender this side of Erik Karlsson, they are – for better and for worse – still the primary driver of NHL contracts. So, that’s where our examination will begin today.
That 50-point mark alone puts Hronek in some fairly exclusive company. Over the past five seasons running, including this one, only 55 blueliners have managed to notch 50 or more points in a single season. And only 35 of them have finished with the 55 or more points that Hronek is currently on pace to hit.
Keep in mind we’re talking individual seasons with that total, not players. The amount of individual players who have hit 55 or more points over the past five seasons is just 23.
If we wanted the quickest ballpark, we might suggest here that Hronek’s next salary probably belongs somewhere in the top-25 for defenders leaguewide. As of now, that’d slot him in at a cap hit of about $7.35 million, dependent on term.
But we can do more ballparking than that.
If we simply accept that Hronek will be getting a raise above his current $4.4 million AAV, we can start to build our list of comparables. Only 44 NHL D have signed contracts with an average higher than that since 2021, and we can whittle that list down further.
As well as he has played, most would agree that Hronek is not a clear-cut number one defender. So, we can eliminate such folks from the list of potential comparables. Goodbye, the likes of Rasmus Dahlin, Adam Fox, Charlie McAvoy, and, of course, Quinn Hughes, who we will talk about plenty later.
We can also, for the time being anyway, eliminate those players who signed as UFAs. Hronek, so long as the Canucks qualify him, will be an RFA this summer. That does limit his negotiating power a bit, and it does help us to narrow down our list.
Here are some obvious comparables that jump out of the crowd:
Vince Dunn, LHD
Signed a four-year, $7.35 million AAV extension in 2023 at 26 after a career-high of 64 points.
Erik Cernak, RHD
Signed an eight-year, $5.2 million AAV extension in 2022 at 26 after a career-high of 18 points (in 46 games).
Anthony DeAngelo, RHD
Signed a two-year, $5 million AAV extension in 2022 at 26 after a career-high of 53 points.
Travis Sanheim, LHD
Signed a two-year, $4.65 million AAV extension in 2021 at 25 after a career-high of 35 points.
Unfortunately, none of the four are particularly great comparables for Hronek due to some noticeable differences. Sanheim signed a while ago, and was not coming off a great season at the time. DeAngelo cost himself plenty of money via personality. Cernak is more of a defensive defender who earned his salary with a strong playoff reputation.
Perhaps our best comparable here is Dunn.
He outscored 2023/24 Hronek in 2022/23, prior to signing his contract, and he played far more of a “number one” role for Seattle than Hronek currently is for Vancouver. All in all, it reads as though Dunn should be paid more.
But the cap will have gone up by $4 million between when Dunn signed his deal and when Hronek signs his. And Hronek plays the typically more valuable side as an RHD. And the Canucks may just want to sign him for a longer term than four years, which buys more “UFA years,” and might just increase the AAV.
All told, there’s definitely at least an argument to be made for Hronek’s camp pointing at Dunn’s contract and saying “that’s what we want.”
In fact, if we look at their 2023/24 seasons in comparison to one another, the similarities draw closer. Hronek is currently at 24th overall in average ice-time at 23:43 a night. Dunn is at 32nd overall with 23:15 a night.
Hronek has 45 points, Dunn has 45 points (albeit in 10 fewer games).
Of course, when it comes to these specific negotiations, the most important comparable might be the in-house one. As in Quinn Hughes’, Hronek’s D partner for the bulk of his time in Vancouver.
More than a few local media personalities have put it out there in recent weeks that the Canucks are negotiating with Hronek under the auspices of an internal cap. As in, “We won’t pay you more than we are currently paying Hughes, our number one defender.”
Hughes signed a six-year extension with an AAV of $7.85 million back in 2021. And, sure, on the surface level, there’s nothing wrong with making a statement like “Hronek should not make more money than Hughes.” No one is going to make much argument about who is the superior player between the two.
But NHL contracts aren’t signed in vacuums, and each one that gets signed changes the dynamics of all future negotiations. A lot has happened since Hughes signed in 2021.
The 2021/22 season had a cap of $81.5 million. The cap for 2024/25 will be $87.5 million. That’s a jump of $6 million, or a 7% increase.
So, on that alone, the “value” of Hughes’ extension works out to about an AAV of about $8.4 million.
Regardless, Hronek is not Hughes. But that Hughes’ contract has only gained value in relation to the cap means that there’s at least an argument for Hronek to now make at least somewhere in the vague neighbourhood of what Hughes currently does.
If rumours are to be believed, Irfaan Gaffar had the Canucks’ most recent offer to Hronek in the range of eight years, $52-54 million total, and an AAV between $6.5 million and $6.75 million.
As of now, that would fit Hronek in to having a top-30 salary among NHL defenders, and probably a little lower than that once the dust settled on all the other contracts in need of signing around the league.
All our signs are pointing us in a slightly higher direction. Our earliest ballpark had us at a $7.35 million AAV. That’s also what Dunn, our best comparable signed for, albeit only over a period of four years and under a lower cap.
And then, of course, there’s that reported internal Hughes cap of less-than-$7.85 million.
The table seems set for the Canucks to make Hronek a larger offer than they currently have, but not all that much higher.
For today, we’re going to predict that the eight-year term sticks, and that the average salary settles in at somewhere between $7 million and $7.4 million.
But that’s just a ballpark, and baseball season is just getting started.

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