Red Wings Role Call is assessing every player who held a significant place in the fortunes of the 2021-22 Detroit Red Wings season. We’ll be looking at the highs and lows they experienced during the just-completed campaign, as well as what the future holds for them in Detroit. Today, we feature defenseman Filip Hronek
2021-22 totals (GP-G-A-P): 78-5-33-38
Contract Status: Two seasons left at $4.4M AAV
On the surface, it appears that Filip Hronek was enjoying a banner season with the Detroit Red Wings during the 2021-22 NHL season. He established career highs for assists (33) and points (38). As a defenseman, Hronek led the Wings in scoring during the 2021 campaign. He and Norris Trophy winner Paul Coffey are the only defenders to do this in franchise history.
However, Hronek’s nose seemed bent out of shape with the arrival of rookie Moritz Seider. The German sensation took over as Detroit’s main man along the blueline and playing a lesser role didn’t sit well with Hronek.
— Allan Walsh (@walsha) May 29, 2022
Former Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill felt a big part of Hronek’s issues were that he was trying to make plays that simply weren’t there to be made. “Sometimes when you want to win so bad, you end up forcing things,” Blashill explained. “Sometimes, he’s always looking for the home-run play.
“The reality is that when you force it, usually bad things happen in life. You’ve got to look and see. If there’s opportunities to make plays, you do it. If there’s opportunities to live another day, you do it.”
2021-22 Red Wings Highlights
Hronek enjoyed five multi-point games during the season. The peak performance saw him score once and assisst on three other goals Feb. 26 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Hronek’s assists and points total in that game were NHL career highs.
Hronek also assembled a three-game point streak from April 1-5. He skated in his 200th NHL game, Jan. 8 at LA. Hronek notched his 100th NHL point with an assist Jan. 15 against Buffalo.
2021-22 Red Wings Lowlights
Hronek was playing so poorly at the outset of the season that it earned him a two-game sitdown as a healthy scratch in late October. Even though he registered a goal and an assist Dec. 10 at Colorado, Hronek still finished with a minus-4 rating for the game, a 7-3 loss. He was a minus player in six of seven games from Jan. 28 through Feb. 23.
Hronek’s goal output has dropped off since he scored a season-high nine times in 2019-20. He’s tallied seven goals over the past two seasons, mainly because he’s suddenly lacking a shot mentality.
— Hockey News Hub (@HockeyNewsHub) May 23, 2022
“I think there can be a frustration level with some players when shots get blocked,” Blashill said. “Then you start thinking, ‘Okay I’m gonna look for a better option.’ But the reality is, if you shoot it enough, it’s gonna get through.
“You look at a guy like (San Jose’s) Brent Burns. He shoots the puck every chance he gets because he’s got a great weapon. Fil Hronek needs to do that as well.”
What Does His Detroit Future Hold?
Hronek is facing an uncertain future with the Red Wings. His role as Detroit’s go-to defenseman has been usurped by Seider. He figures to be a player that Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman will at the very least be shopping this summer. His offensive upside will prove attractive to potential trade partners.
With two years left on his current contract at $4.4 million, Hronek offers cost certainty. That could also make a team be willing to take him on in a deal.
Hronek went to the IIHF World Championship and helped Czechia win a bronze, their first finish in the top three since 2012. In 2019, Hronek was named top defenseman at the worlds. He utilized that success to propel himself into a role as an NHL regular.
Perhaps another positive international experience will help get his game back heading into the right direction. Then again, it’s also entirely plausible that he may have played his last game as a Red Wing.