Mark Friedman benefits from knock-on effect of Filip Hronek deal

The Vancouver Canucks announced the signing of blue-liner Mark Friedman, in a one-year deal which helps solidify the defensive depth for little cost.
St. Louis Blues v Vancouver Canucks
St. Louis Blues v Vancouver Canucks / Derek Cain/GettyImages

In many ways, getting Filip Hronek to agree a eight-year contract was a major win for the Vancouver Canucks. After all, they have tied down one of their top blue-liners for the long-term, in a move that signifies both strength and stability.

However, as we wrote on Wednesday, the deal also backs the Canucks into a corner due to the $58 million they signed Hronek for. As much as the annual cap hit of $7.25 million will (almost) look like a bargain over time, this doesn't help the organisation financially in the right here and now.

With a bevy of pending free agents and just over $17 million projected cap space available for next season, there just isn't enough to pay everyone want they want. Even if you include the expected additional $2.5 million for the final year of Tucker Poolman's contract being attributed to Long-Term Injured Reserve, it still won't be enough.

Asking for too much

The Canucks have already reportedly made what can be considered reasonable offers to the likes of Nikita Zadorov and Elias Lindholm, which have been turned down. Now with Hronek agreeing his deal, there is little hope of finding more money for either Zadorov or Lindholm, meaning both are now more than likely gone.

In respect of the defence specifically, the Canucks are proud of the progress they made during the 2023-24 campaign. They were ranked tied-fifth in fewest goals allowed and sixth for fewest shots against, compared to 25th and 12th respectively the season before.

Along these lines, the loss of Zadorov would undoubtedly be a big blow. And while this only increases the significance of getting Hronek on board long-time, they still need to get more defensive help signed, but with considerably less money.

Friedman benefits from the Hronek deal

As a result, it makes sense why the Canucks have signed Mark Friedman to a one-year deal, for the NHL league minimum of $775,000. As per the team's official release, general manager Patrik Allvin said: "Mark’s addition to our group last year gave us some much needed depth and he is someone we can count on if plugged into our lineup. He is a team first player and is always ready to step in if called upon. We expect him to come into camp and compete hard for a regular spot this season."

In some respects, Friedman has never quite lived up to the expectations which came with being selected in the third round of the 2014 draft. However, as of right now this is to the benefit of the Canucks, to be able to re-sign him at an extremely reasonable price.

The 28-year-old Toronto native is admittedly limited offensively, but he is solid defensively and has the potential to be a regular contributor as part of a bottom-pairing. He averaged 12:14 of ice time in 23 games for the Canucks this season, producing a 51.6 FenwickFor% and 92.6% on-ice save percentage in all situations, as well as a career-best +4 rating.

Friedman does also have some playoff experience, with six games for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2021-22, when he averaged 10:55 of ice time, scored a goal and had a +3 rating. Overall, he's a positive attribute to the Canucks.

What about the Canucks' other pending free agent blue-liners?

Still on the subject of defencemen, the Canucks would of course like to have Tyler Myers and Ian Cole back, but with July 1 fast approaching, they have yet to be resigned. There is hope in respect of Myers specifically though, with Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman recently indicating management are optimistic they will figure out an extension with the 2008 12th overall draft pick.

For some context, AFP Analytics projects Myers will sign a two-year deal with an annual value of just over $3.17 million. As for Cole, they project he will get a one-year contract worth just under $2.12 million.

In their own right, each of these projected deals seem reasonable. However, as per Cap Friendly, with now $16,053,333 of projected cap space and still eight unrestricted and one restricted pending free agent to consider, the numbers just don't add up.

Next. Fans react to news of Canucks signing Mark Friedman. Fans react to news of Canucks signing Mark Friedman. dark

Overall, getting Hronek and Friedman re-signed certainly represents progress for the Canucks. However, there's still plenty of uncertainty and likely dissatisfaction facing the organisation and their fans in the coming weeks.

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