The Detroit Red Wings traded defenseman Filip Hronek and a 2023 fourth-round draft pick to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday in exchange for the New York Islanders' conditional 2023 first-round pick and a 2023 second-round selection.
The Red Wings deciding to move on from Hronek came as a bit of a surprise, raising questions if the team could be on the verge of another move. The former second-round pick led Detroit's defensemen with nine goals and 38 points while averaging 21 minutes, 31 seconds in ice time over 60 games this season. The 25-year-old was also tied for second on the team in points.
The Red Wings entered the day five points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot.
Sending Hronek, who was in the second year of a three-year extension, to the Canucks means the Red Wings were able to clear his $4.4 million cap hit from the books, giving them $7.27 million in projected available cap space ahead of Friday's trade deadline.
In addition, the Red Wings were able to add even more draft capital. The protected first-round pick from the Canucks was part of the trade that saw former captain Bo Horvat dealt to the Islanders. The Red Wings now have five picks in the first two rounds of the 2023 draft and nine picks total.
Hronek provides the Canucks with another top-four defenseman who could be part of their future plans. The Canucks opened the season with a seven-game losing streak that resulted in just two points -- a jarring start given what they achieved after they replaced coach Travis Green in December 2021 with Bruce Boudreau, who went 32-15-10 as Vancouver fell five points shy of a wild-card spot last season.
The Canucks have been above .500 just once this season -- on Dec. 27 -- before losing seven of the next eight games.
Vancouver eventually fired Boudreau, replaced him with former Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet and started looking toward the future, beginning with trading Horvat in late January to the Islanders in a deal that saw it receive that protected first-round pick, forward Anthony Beauvillier and prospect forward Aatu Raty.
The Canucks received former first-round pick Vitali Kravtsov from the New York Rangers on Saturday. On Tuesday, they traded defenseman Luke Schenn back to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a 2023 third-round pick.
The Canucks remain in the running to potentially win the NHL draft lottery, with North Vancouver native Connor Bedard as the projected No. 1 pick. Entering Wednesday's games, Vancouver had seven more points than the Columbus Blue Jackets, the team with the fewest points in the NHL.