Like it or not, the Filip Hronek acquisition is exactly what the Canucks needed to add
Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
By Noah Strang2 months ago
Canucks fans have finally had the chance to watch the team’s big deadline acquisition play for the club. Filip Hronek has now appeared in two games with the Vancouver Canucks, both of which the team won. The 25 year-old defenceman has been the subject of much discussion and has now finally gotten to show his stuff after returning from an upper body injury that was keeping him out of the lineup.
Across the two games he’s featured in, Hronek has been a steady presence, taking the load off of teammates. This is exactly the type of defenceman that the Canucks needed to add to their lineup and thus far, Hronek has shown that he can be the jack-of-all-trades player that acts as the Swiss Army Knife solution to whatever issue the Canucks are facing at that time.
“I like his [Hronek’s] swag,” head coach Rick Tocchet said after the defenceman’s debut. “Quick plays, I thought he played really well.”
Tocchet isn’t the only one who has been impressed with Hronek’s early play. The defenceman has caught the eye of many across the Vancouver hockey scene, specifically for his passing ability, steady defensive play, and ability to thrive in all situations. While it’s still early, the Canucks’ big fish deadline deal is paying early dividends with a clear picture of how the 25-year-old could be a key contributor moving forward.
Hronek’s ability to chew up minutes
Perhaps the most valuable asset that Hronek brings to the Canucks is his ability to handle a large workload. He’s played a large chunk of minutes in both of his appearances thus far and looked comfortable with the assignment. He played 24:25 in his debut against the Sharks, leading the team, before playing 26:37 against the Stars two nights later.
The fact that Hronek can chew up so many minutes means that Tocchet can play other Canucks defencemen in more favourable situations. Quinn Hughes had his lightest game in a long time in Hronek’s debut as the two could share some of the heavy lifting.
When Christian Wolanin left the game against the Sharks with an injury early on, the Canucks were forced to rotate through five defencemen for most of the night. Hronek did a great job at leading the team in ice-time and looking very capable while doing so. He’s clearly a notch above other Canucks defencemen who while they play well in limited roles, struggle when forced to log 20+ minutes against top NHL competition.
The most versatile Canucks defenceman
Hronek instantly becomes the Canucks’ most versatile defenceman and someone that can play in all situations. He’s already been worked into the first power play unit as well as gotten significant time on the penalty kill. The fact that Hronek is comfortable in all situations is a huge positive. Many of the Canucks other defencemen can only play on one special teams unit, if they’re good enough to play on any at all.
Against the Stars, Hronek was tied with Hughes for the team lead in power play ice-time and was tied with Myers for the most short-handed ice-time. The fact that he can not only play, but perform at a high level on both special teams units means that Hronek can impact the game in a multitude of ways.
Hronek is not the type of player that needs to be listed in the box score to contribute to wins, yet he’s still dangerous offensively and will put up points on the Canucks, especially if he sticks around on the top power play unit. His steady presence is welcome to a Canucks defence group that has been sorely needing one.
“He’s [Filip Hronek] the type of guy that can play right or left or play with whoever,” Tocchet said after the Canucks game against the Sharks the other day. “It’s good to have those guys.”
The elephant in the room
There are big expectations on Hronek’s shoulders. The Canucks paid a pretty penny to acquire him, not only trading two high draft picks but dealing the first-rounder acquired in exchange for their captain. Wherever Hronek’s Canucks career goes from this day forward, he will undoubtedly be held to a high standard.
No matter what you think about the purchase price, after two games it’s hard to say that Hronek isn’t exactly what the Canucks defence group needed. He can play in all situations, handle a ton of minutes, and plays a very steady game. All of this means that he can handle a lot of the team’s dirty work.
Getting a defenceman like Hronek is not cheap in the NHL and his first two games have proven why. He’s a very valuable player that is going to make this team more competitive and is still just 25 years old. As the Canucks push for a re-tool and to overhaul on the fly, acquiring Hronek brings in the perfect archetype to help make the top-four competitive.
The acquisition cost for a jack-of-all-trades defenceman is never cheap, nor is the price required to re-sign them, but Hronek’s first two games have helped explain some of that value.
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