Head coach Rick Tocchet says he expects defenceman Filip Hronek to make his Vancouver Canucks debut Thursday against the San Jose Sharks.
Hronek was acquired in a trade-deadline trade with the Detroit Red Wings but has been nursing an upper-body injury for most of March.
“He’s a good possibility to play,” Tocchet said after practice Wednesday. “He looked great out there today.”
The 25-year-old right-shot blue liner will give the Canucks another offensive weapon from the back end, while providing responsible play away from the puck. Hronek has nine goals and 38 points in 60 games this season, both totals matching his career highs.
Tocchet also said he doesn’t expect Oliver Ekman-Larsson will return from an ankle injury this season, but added the defenceman should come back fresh and motivated next season.
Ekman-Larsson injured his ankle in a game against the Rangers on Feb. 15 and was placed on the injured reserve on Feb. 21. The 31-year-old has disappointed this season — and even been a healthy scratch at times. He remains under contract for four more seasons with an $8.25-million cap hit.
“He’s off the cast, he’s walking now. He’s really worked hard, the last three-to-four weeks,” Tocchet said. “This is a big summer for him. I know a lot of people count him out. I got a feeling that he’s gonna have a really good year. There’s a gleam in his eye.”
The Canucks host the Sharks Thursday night on Sportsnet Pacific, beginning at 7 p.m. PT.