NHL trade grades: Canucks pay high price to Red Wings for Filip Hronek

The trade

Canucks get: Defenseman Filip Hronek, choice in the fourth round in 2023

The Red Wings get: Conditional 2023 first-round pick (originally from Islanders), 2023 second-round pick

Shayna Goldman: Dear Patrik Allvin, maybe don’t pick up the phone the next time Steve Yzerman calls? Or do, because we could all use a laugh once in a while.

While much is confusing for Vancouver, it seems they have a vision of sorts: younger defensemen in their mid-20s. There is nothing wrong with Hronek; he is having a very strong season, especially before he ended up with Ben Chiarot. And the Canucks do need skilled defensemen, that was clear before the puck even dropped this season.

But there’s a cap aspect to this trade that doesn’t make sense for the Canucks. As it stands, they are up against the top for next season, which gives them little flexibility – unless there is another move to follow. While Hronek isn’t a rental car and has a reasonable $4.4 million cap hit that he’s playing over right now, his strong season opens the door to a raise that this team shouldn’t be too willing to hand out — or maybe not even is capable of of giving.

What doesn’t make sense either? The comeback! A first and a second! In a deep draft! It’s not that the Canucks shouldn’t flip these picks. Since they have their own first-rounders over the next three years, moving out the Islanders roster isn’t a deal-breaker. It’s just that it should be for a player who guarantees such a high return – in this case, the first plus second rounder unbalances the trade too much.

From the Red Wings’ perspective, Yzerman sold high on a player and the Canucks bet. He came out with a great return, and now the question turns to what comes next. Will these draft picks become trade capital to replace Hronek on defense? Even if that’s not the plan, this deal in itself is a victory.

Canucks: D
Red Wings: ONE

Sean Gentille: I should preface this by saying that I like Hronek as a player. I think he’s good. He does a lot of things well – and hey, those are the fun things. He scores points, and he hits people, and he does everything from the right side. I’m not worried about him having a career year, and I’m not worried that his production has dipped recently. He plays alongside Chiarot. You want some of it.

Adding him to a blue line is to improve it immediately, especially if you initially have no right-shooting defensemen, as is the case for Vancouver. That way he makes sense. The Canucks defense stunk this morning, and now it stinks less.

That’s the only way he makes sense; The Canucks are still bad. They’re still going to go bad. Although Hronek is good, not enough to make them good – not in any meaningful sense, and not for the price they paid.

Think of it this way; they just took the most important asset they got from the islanders for Bo Horvat (who will likely be an unprotected first rounder in 2024), added their own second round pick to the pile and traded it for a 25 year old, second pair guy who is having a season to to a $4.4 million AAV before arbitration eligibility.

This is a move you make when you’re close, not 27th in the league. It would be shocking if it wasn’t so typical of the Canucks. They are not going to rebuild. Ever. Not on purpose, anyway. They’ve paid the price for it before, and they’re about to do it again. Whatever improvements Hronek brings won’t be enough to justify the price. Sure, they needed a right-handed D. They need a lot more, though. Too much to add via trade, actually.

As for the Red Wings? There seems to be an impulse among a certain sect of Red Wings fans to treat Steve Yzerman’s moves as self-evident acts of genius, even when there is evidence to the contrary. Not every transaction is smart, or part of a grand plan. That said… this one is smart. And it certainly appears to be part of a grand plan. The Red Wings had fun last month, dipping far enough in the standings to warrant this move. They will be better for it, whether in the short or long term.

Canucks: D+
Red Wings: ONE

(Photo: Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire)

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