Detroit Red Wings: Will Filip Hronek be able to elevate his game?

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 19: Filip Hronek #17 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on March 19, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 19: Filip Hronek #17 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on March 19, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Detroit Red Wings started the season with a collection of young defensemen in their lineup because the injury bug occurred early and often.  Filip Hronek started slow but finished strong, will he take the next step next season?

It was anything but the ideal situation for the Detroit Red Wings once the games started to count at the beginning of last season.  I mean, we were excited because we were going into the season understanding that it would be a rebuilding year in Detroit.  The fans welcomed an opportunity to get a look at some of the young, up and coming players right from the get-go.

With injuries to nearly all the veteran defensemen players like Filip Hronek, Dennis Cholowski, Libor Sulak, Joe Hicketts all drew into the lineup with veterans Mike Green, Jonathan Ericsson, Niklas Kronwall all banged up.  Nick Jensen started the first game of the season in the press box, and I was ok with that at the time.  Man, was I wrong about that, he played exceptionally well for the Detroit Red Wings up until he was moved to the Washington Capitals near the trade deadline.

Dennis Cholowski flew onto the scene proving he belonged at the NHL level.  He seemed to fizzle as the season continued to grow old, part of that, in my opinion, is because this past season was his first professional season.  These young players are not used to the grind of being an NHL player, coming from junior hockey into the show is taxing if your body isn’t prepared for the grind.

More from Octopus Thrower

He was starting to make mental mistakes, and instead of correcting them they began to increase.  Earlier in the season, he was paired with Mike Green, they were useful in the offensive zone but often were ineffective in their own zone recognizing defensive zone coverage.  Cholowski eventually was sent back to Grand Rapids to focus on the defensive side of things.  I expect to see Cholowski next season in Detroit, but he might start the year in the AHL.

Filip Hronek, on the other hand, is a notoriously slow starter.  The last couple of seasons’ it’s taken Hronek four to six weeks to get into the groove of things.  Two years ago he was scratched a few times early on in the season with the Griffins until he decided to put forth the necessary effort every night.

Somehow between the organization and Hronek, they need to get Filip ready for game one of the NHL season next year.  Someone should tell Filip that the preseason is actually the regular season so when the games start to count he will be starting to excel.  Hronek looked fantastic with the Wings down the stretch, head coach Jeff Blashill gave him a huge confidence booster playing him north of 25:00 minutes on multiple occasions down the stretch.

He was primarily paired with veteran defenseman Danny DeKeyser, the pair played as the teams’ top unit and played extremely well together.  I would expect that pair to start next season together as the teams’ number one pairing.  Hronek built good chemistry with DeKeyser who is a stay at home defender who is an above average skater that can chip in with a bit of offense now and then.

The Detroit Red Wings are desperate to find their next top defender and Filip Hronek could be the answer.  He’s a well-rounded defender who can anchor an NHL teams’ top power-play unit.  He isn’t an ideal penalty killer, but if he works at it throughout the summer, he could round into a complete defender.  The sky is the limit with Hronek; if he can become a capable penalty killer, he should be able to transition into the Detroit Red Wings top defenseman as early as next season.

During Steve Yzerman‘s press conference he spoke about the young core players in place, he named four forwards, and the only defender he addressed was Filip Hronek.  That tells you how much he thinks of the youngster.

Next. Five players Steve Yzerman needs to move on from. dark

He’s currently trying to help the Grand Rapids Griffins endure a long playoff run in the hopes of winning the Calder Cup.  Their first round best three out of five series with the Chicago Wolves is knotted at one.  In 46 games last season with Detroit he achieved 5 goals, 18 assists for a grand total of 23 points.  He was a minus -10 on the year, but his CF% was solid settling in at 50.3%.