The Vancouver Canucks paid a handsome price to the Detroit Red Wings last season in order to acquire defenseman Filip Hronek, surrendering a first and second-round pick. Part of their rationale in acquiring Hronek was that ascending right-shot blueliners capable of scoring at or above a 40-point pace are exceedingly rare, and by acquiring Hronek the team managed to add a defenseman who would arguably slot in as their best behind franchise blueliner Quinn Hughes.
But with just four total games under his belt and a contract set to expire at the end of the season (he’ll be an RFA, one season away from UFA status) the 2023-24 season is shaping up to be a massive one in determining whether the Canucks’ investment in Hronek will be a lasting one. As TSN’s Travis Yost writes, Vancouver is “betting on” Hronek emerging as a capable, reliable top-four defenseman and building on the development he showed over the last two years in Detroit. If he can shore up a spot as the Canucks’ number-two defenseman, a long-term extension in Vancouver could come before the end of the season.
Some other notes from across the NHL:
- New Jersey Devils winger Jesper Bratt had put off settling down and signing a long-term contract extension until this past summer, and that patience paid off as his back-to-back 73-point seasons earned him a $7.875MM AAV deal that stretches through the 2030-31 season. Despite now earning that guaranteed financial security, Bratt explained to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek on the 32 Thoughts podcast that the removal of the pressure of playing on a one-year deal won’t impact his preparation or motivation for the seasons to come. Bratt said “Now that the eight-year deal has come around, I know what it means,” adding that “work that has to be put in every day” so that he can live up to the lofty price tag. The Devils have grand designs for their era of contention led by Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier, and if the team ends up achieving those lofty goals next season it’s highly likely Bratt will be a major reason why.
- Philadelphia Flyers top prospect Matvei Michkov was a healthy scratch for his KHL club’s season-opening game today, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jordan Hall. The 2023 seventh-overall pick is beginning the first of three seasons left on his KHL contract and scored 20 points in 27 games on loan with HK Sochi last season. His success as a scorer last season raises questions as to why Michkov has been scratched, especially seeing as the move was not, per Hall, injury-related. While Michkov has a long runway to develop his game before he’ll have to hit the ice for the Flyers, it’s certainly not a positive for either Michkov or Flyers fans that he’s not drawing into SKA St. Petersburg’s lineup.