Hronek, 26, secures eight-year deal from Canucks

NHL

One of the biggest questions of the Vancouver Canucks‘ offseason was answered Tuesday with the club announcing it had signed Filip Hronek to an eight-year contract extension.

Hronek’s new deal will see the 26-year-old defenseman earn $7.25 million annually after finishing the season with a career-high 48 points in 81 games. He partnered with Canucks captain Quinn Hughes to establish one of the more formidable top defensive pairings in the NHL.

The contributions Hronek made in the regular season allowed the Canucks to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2019-20 season.

“Filip has fit in seamlessly on our blueline, giving us stability and strength on the right side,” Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said in a statement. “His ability to skate, defend and create offense is exactly what you want in from a top pairing defenseman. This season he has shown all of us his desire to compete and a willingness to be a leader on this hockey team. We look forward to seeing him continue to elevate our group and for him to grow both on and off the ice.”

Part of the Canucks’ transformation under Allvin has seen the front office revamp a defensive unit that had previously struggled with consistency. The first part of that plan came during the 2022-23 season when the Canucks used the first-round pick they acquired in the Bo Horvat trade with the New York Islanders to get Hronek from the Detroit Red Wings at the trade deadline.

Hronek was still recovering from a shoulder injury, one that would lead to him only playing four games with the Canucks. He used the offseason to fully recover as Allvin and his front office staff continued to retool their roster by adding Ian Cole and Carson Soucy in free agency.

A healthy Hronek and Hughes formed a top pairing that saw the club have a 15-8-1 record going into December.

With the Canucks emerging as another potential legitimate option in a crowded Western Conference landscape, Allvin made another move to strengthen his defense by trading for Calgary Flames defenseman Nikita Zadorov, before the club made another trade with the Flames at the NHL All-Star break to add center Elias Lindholm.

The Canucks would finish 50-23-9 as they won the Pacific Division title while finishing with the third-most points in the West. From there, they beat the Nashville Predators in six games in an opening-round series and came within a game of advancing to the Western Conference finals before they were eliminated by the Edmonton Oilers.

Once their season ended, the Canucks’ attention turned to how they would address their roster needs as they seek to reach consecutive postseason campaigns for the first time since the 2012-13 season.

Hronek was one of the players at the heart of that discussion. He was part of a two-player pending restricted free agent class that also includes goaltender and playoff hero Arturs Silovs.

Even with Hronek under team control, there was still a conversation to be had about how his next deal would impact the Canucks’ plans in what’s slated to be an active offseason.

Cole, Lindholm, Zadorov and defenseman Tyler Myers are part of an eight-player unrestricted free agent class that could force the franchise into some difficult decisions, with CapFriendly projecting the Canucks now have $16.828 million in available cap space.

Four of those UFAs are defensemen, and Hronek’s new contract means he is now one of four defensemen under contract for next season and one of four Canucks who have more than three years remaining on their current deals with the club.

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