Hronek gets shot to showcase talents against NHL foe

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Filip Hronek impressed the Red Wings organization during the summer’s development camp.

No. 2 defenseman: Filip Hronek -- Skilled enough to quarterback the power play, Hronek’s character is solid enough to be named captain of the 2017 Czech squad at the World Junior Championship. Scouts say he shows considerable ability to get the puck on net, from the point. He is also a fine passer and good, some say excellent, skater. Lighter than Dennis Cholowski, he needs to add size and strength. Still acclimating to North American ice surfaces, Hronek’s defensive zone coverage requires improvement.

Hronek got the chance to do it again Friday during an NHL exhibition game.

The Red Wings’ 2016 second-round draft choice from the Czech Republic, Hronek is a small (6-foot, 165-pounds), skilled offensive defenseman.

“He had a real ability to move the puck when I saw him this summer (development camp),” coach Jeff Blashill said. “He seemed to handle the forecheck and that’s the hardest thing in today’s game, how hard everyone is forechecking. You have to be able to manage the puck and he did a good job of it this summer.

Wings rookie Hronek makes strong impression

“He has an edge to him as well. Ultimately, he’ll have to be real good on the power play to be the type of NHL player we’d like him to be.”

Hronek, 18, is still learning the English language, very limited in his vocabulary although he understands it fairly well.
He’ll play for Saginaw in the Ontario Hockey League after he leaves Red Wings camp next week, having played last season in the Czech Republic.

Playing against a young, junior and minor league lineup of the Bruins Friday was a good, fair test for Hronek.

“Either way, from my standpoint, I’d like him to play against as good a players as possible, just to see how he handles the challenge,” Blashill said.

Injury update

Henrik Zetterberg (knee) and Niklas Kronwall (knee) both skated Friday and Blashill remains hopeful both can begin practicing next week.

“Tuesday would be the first opportunity,” Blashill said. “I’m not saying they’re going to (but) we’ll evaluate it on Monday.”

Teemu Pulkkinen (shoulder) was going to be tested the next few days in practice physically and might be able to play more than one exhibition game next week.

“We’re going to push him hard physically and see if he can’t be ready sooner than we thought,” Blashill said.

Returning home

World Cup participants Tomas Tatar, Thomas Vanek and Frans Nielsen could begin practicing with the Red Wings Tuesday at the earliest after the conclusion of the tournament Thursday.

Alexey Marchenko will begin practicing Saturday with the Red Wings.

“I'd love to get them in two (exhibition) games, but I don’t think it’s going to be feasible,” Blashill said.

Blashill doesn’t feel either Nielsen or Vanek, free agent signings last summer, will be dramatically behind this training camp because of the high level of play they’ve been competing in at the World Cup.