One step forward, two steps back has summed up the Vancouver Canucks for almost a decade. Another example of that happened on Wednesday afternoon.
Around 1:47 Pacific time, the Canucks announced they had acquired defenceman Filip Hronek and a 2023 fourth-round pick in exchange for a 2023 conditional first-round pick and a 2023 second-round pick. That first-round pick was acquired from the New York Islanders from the Bo Horvat trade. (If the Islanders finish in the bottom 12, it will be a 2024 first rounder)
You probably thought the Tweet was fake but unfortunately, it wasn’t.
Canucks trade away draft picks yet again
*Massive Sigh* Why? Just why?
Less than 24 hours ago, the Canucks had seven picks in the first four rounds of this year’s draft. According to Harman Dayal of The Athletic, they never had that many picks in the first four rounds in franchise history.
Well, so much for that!
There isn’t much to say. Well, other than the fact the Canucks have shot themselves in the foot once again. This year’s draft is supposed to be a very good one. Vancouver is a team near the bottom of the standings and they need to acquire as many picks so they can support Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes with some young talent.
They did so by acquiring a third for Luke Schenn on Tuesday and the conditional first-round pick in the Horvat deal. Again, so much for that!
You do not trade first and second-round picks unless you are a Stanley Cup contender or a few pieces away from being one. We all know the Canucks are nowhere near being a contender and haven’t been for years.
Yet, they act like they are.
They traded a first in 2019 (A conditional pick that turned out to be a 2020 first since the Canucks made the playoffs in the bubble) for JT Miller after finishing in the bottom ten of the NHL. Two years later, they traded the ninth overall pick as part of the deal that sent Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland to Vancouver. Almost two years after that, the Canucks are set on finishing in the bottom ten in the league (closer to the bottom five) and they did it again.
Oh yeah, the second pick they gave up? That stings too. So now the Canucks don’t have a second pick in 2023 and 2024 because the 2024 pick was traded away to the Chicago Blackhawks for Riley Stillman in order to dump Jason Dickinson.
This goes to show the Canucks are still committed to the retool model and won’t rebuild. But this approach failed before. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
This team doesn’t seem to get it right? They are nowhere near contention and draft picks help for the future. Yeah, not all pan out but it is better to have more than less so the chances of them panning out increase.
What about Filip Hronek?
Now Filip Hronek is a right-handed defenceman which is something the Canucks desperately need. In fact, he’s a good one.
Hronek is having the best season of his career. The 25-year-old (He will turn 26 in November) has nine goals and 29 points for 38 points in 60 games with Red Wings this season. 38 points is also his career high which he achieved last year so it is safe to say he is going to get a new career high once this season concludes.
The man from the Czech Republic (Or Czechia as it is apparently now called) seems like a solid offensive defenceman. Hronek is a decent skater and makes a lot of good passes. He also has a good shot.
This is a player who can break the puck out of the defensive zone well, which is something the Canucks are really bad at. Hronek can also help out on the power play.
He was used on the first unit in Detroit but the Canucks like to use Hughes and two forwards on their first unit. So it looks like he could be on the second unit.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find many clips of Hronek’s defensive game other than the one below. He makes a nice diving defensive play to prevent Esa Lindell of the Dallas Stars from getting a scoring chance.
So I decided to look at the fancy stats.
According to NaturalStatTrick, Hronek has been on the ice for 35 goals against at five-on-five. Among 94 NHL defencemen that played at least 900 minutes this season that is the 20th least in the NHL. When it comes to shots against at five on five, his shot-against rate per 60 minutes is 29.05 which is 56th most among the 94 defencemen. Hronek’s expected goals against rate is 2.57 per 60 which is 53rd most in the NHL and his high danger chances against per 60 rate is 12.46 which is 33rd most. So, it looks like he’s average to slightly above defensively.
He would be a decent partner for Hughes. It would have been better if Hughes’ partner was solid defensively like Chris Tanev was but having two puck-moving defencemen on the top pairing isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The Canucks got themselves a good player but the timing is very wrong. That is especially since Hronek’s contract has a 4.4 million dollar cap hit and is set to expire at the end of the 2023-24 season. Will the Canucks be competitive next season? Absolutely not.
If Hronek turns out to be a very good fit, he’ll want a big raise and with the Canucks still in a cap crunch, it will be tough to give it to him. Of course, this trade could some money-clearing trades could be coming as well as a potential buyout.
The Canucks are running in circles like Post Malone sings. They are trying to get better but they are not because they repeat the same mistakes over and over again.
Moves like this keep the Canucks in the darkness of mediocrity. With the prospect pool bare and the 2023 draft being the best class in years, why not keep the extra first? Or at least wait until it becomes a first this year or next? Then you could consider trading it.
This is just a strange move for the 26th-ranked team in the NHL to make. If the Canucks were competitive it would make sense but they are not so it doesn’t.
The Canucks are like the recent MCU films and shows. Phases four and five have lacked direction and the final products look rushed and are panned by fans and critics. The Canucks also lack direction and are rushing to make a Stanley Cup
This trade just proves retooling on the fly doesn’t work. It also makes us ask a question that is as old as time: “What is this team doing?”