The Detroit Red Wings have signed defenseman Filip Hronek to a contract extension for three years that is worth an average annual value of $4.4 million. This was the last of the “big name” free agents that the team needed to sign. Sean Dery and I both have thoughts on what the signing of the 23-year-old means for the Red Wings team going forward.
What does Filip Hronek bring to the Red Wings?
Hronek was drafted 53rd overall by the Red Wings out of Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic in the 2016 NHL entry draft. At only 23-years-old, Filip Hronek lead the Red Wings in points during the 2020-2021 NHL season, scoring only two goals and adding 24 assists in 56 games played. Hronek also led the team in average time on ice at 23:23. According to Hockey Reference, Hronek has a point share of 3.2 points per game in his career so far. According to the website, ‘offensive Point Shares are credited using the following formula: (marginal goals) / (marginal goals per point).’
Riley McPherson previously wrote that Filip Hronek had a quick rise to the NHL level in the Detroit Red Wings organization. In his first 22 games played during the 2019-2020 season, Hronek scored 13 points for the team. Hronek’s final goal scored would come on January 14th, 2019, against the New York Islanders; a goal-scoring drought would follow. Through 164 games played during his career, Hronek has scored 16 goals and added 64 assists for the Detroit Red Wings. This leads the team during this period. Sean Dery says that the problem is that Hronek’s two goals during the 2020-2021 NHL season came with the opposing team’s net empty.
At his best Hronek can be the “quarterback” of the number one power-play unit for the team. Playing on a powerplay unit with players such as Dylan Larkin and Filip Zadina will allow Hronek to use his understanding of the game to put the power play in a position to be successful. Sean Dery says that the team scored 17 powerplay goals during the 2020-2021 season which was little more than half as much as the league average. Hronek needs to become the primary driver and improve both his production and how that production comes. He’ll have some time to do so, at least for three years.
One reason that Hronek fell in the 2016 NHL draft is the fact that he is only six feet tall. He has had to use his understanding of the game to make it to the NHL level. These are the types of players that general manager Steve Yzerman has consistently brought into the fold of the organization. While he may not have the most outstanding physical traits, his high hockey IQ will help him make up for these “shortcomings.” In April of 2021, Yzerman was quoted as saying that he was pleased with the growth of Hronek. ‘They (Hronek, Veleno, and Michael Rasmussen) are positively contributing.’
Where does the Red Wings defense stand?
There are young prospects in the Red Wings organization such as Moritz Seider and Joe Veleno who will continue to get more playing time in the minor leagues. It is believed that Seider will at least start the 2021-2022 NHL season in Grand Rapids, playing for the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins. The 20-year-old will have every opportunity to stay with the roster and has done nothing but show that he will one day be a star defenseman in the NHL. Veleno, on the other hand, will more than likely play more games with the Red Wings. He has only played five games at this level so far.
The Red Wings traded a second-round draft pick for New York Islanders Nick Leddy. The Islanders came one game away from playing in the Stanley Cup Finals and Leddy scored two goals and added 31 assists in 56 games played for the team. This trade was seen as a head-scratcher by some, to begin with. That is a lot of draft capital to give up for a veteran defenseman. Upon further review, the deal makes all the sense in the world as Leddy can mentor the young defensemen on the Detroit Red Wings roster. If Leddy can teach Seider and Hronek what it takes to be a “professional” hockey player, the signing will be invaluable.
Filip Hronek has advanced to the first-pair of defenseman for the Red Wings in only three seasons playing for the team. He could be a mentor to younger defensemen in the coming years as the Red Wings come into their “Stanley Cup window.” Hronek can become a first pairing defenseman on the Red Wings in this time period. Sean Dery says that this leaves Hronek on the second pairing potentially with Danny DeKeyser as one of the two pairings with younger and older players. Seider will pair with Nick Leddy while he learns how to play at the NHL level.
Prospect Moritz Seider is expected to be on the roster after training camp and will most likely pair with Leddy to start the season. Sean Dery says that while expectations are higher for Seider coming into the lineup, Hronek can benefit from the spotlight being pointed elsewhere to come into his own. He has consistently improved in each of his three seasons and the expectation is for that to continue. Based on his past play, Hronek can become a top-pairing defenseman for the Detroit Red Wings when they are in their “Stanley Cup window,” but his performance on the ice needs to improve.
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