DETROIT - When he makes his preseason debut tonight when the Red Wings face the Boston Bruins in their second home preseason game, Filip Hronek will be the youngest defenseman on the ice.
Hronek, who turns 19 Nov. 2, was the Wings' second-round pick, 53rd overall, in this past summer's NHL Entry Draft.
"I thought he had a real ability to move the puck when I saw him in the summer," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "He seemed to be able to handle the forecheck. I think that's the hardest thing in today's game, to handle how hard everyone is forechecking, so you have to be able to manage that puck and he did a good job of it this summer. He's got an edge to him as well. I think it would mean a lot for him to be real good on the power play to be the type of NHL player we'd like him to be, so we'll give him a chance on the power play tonight as well."
Hronek will be paired with Dan Renouf.
Obviously the Bruins won't be bringing their entire regular-season lineup but it will give Hronek a good sense of what caliber of play to expect.
"I think success breeds confidence, so if it helps him have success not having a full NHL lineup that could be a positive but I think 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. But I think it'll be good to see him, good to see him in a game. I liked him in the summer, let's see him in a real game."
Hronek is listed at 6-feet, 164 pounds, so he is going to have to gain some weight.
A native of Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic, Hronek is still learning English.
"I speak English and he nods yes," Blashill said.
Hronek will eventually join the OHL's Saginaw Spirit, who drafted him 14th in the Import Draft.
LINEUPS FOR BOSTON: Here is the lineup for tonight's home preseason game against the Boston Bruins:
Gustav Nyquist-Darren Helm-Riley Sheahan
Evgeny Svechnikov-Ben Street-Dylan Sadowy
Eric Tangradi-Matt Lorito-Mitch Callahan
Givani Smith-Louis-Marc Aubry-Matthew Ford
Jonathan Ericsson-Mike Green
Joe Hicketts-Nick Jensen
Dan Renouf-Filip Hronek
INJURY NEWS: Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg and defenseman Niklas Kronwall are both dealing with knee issues and have been skating on their own.
"They're going to skate tomorrow, take Sunday off, skate Monday and then we'll evaluate Tuesday and see if they're ready to practice with us," Blashill said. "Tuesday would be the first opportunity they'd have to practice with us. I'm not saying they're going to, I'm saying we'll evaluate that on Monday."
Teemu Pulkkinen, who had left shoulder surgery June 6, appears to be progressing. He's been practicing with the team for a while.
"We're going to push him hard today physically and see if he can't be ready sooner than we thought, maybe get him in more games than we thought," Blashill said.
Tomas Nosek, who skated Thursday for the first time since injuring his knee in the Red-White game, practiced with the non-game group Friday.
WORLD CUP PLAYERS: Blashill said he has texted with Team Europe players Tomas Tatar, Thomas Vanek and Frans Nielsen and plans to speak with them over the weekend.
"I'd love to get them in two (games), but I don't think it's going to be feasible, even if they came back on Tuesday," Blashill said. "After a few days off to throw them in a game doesn't make tons of sense. So I think we'll look at next Saturday as the game they'll play."
Blashill said he expects defenseman Alexey Marchenko to practice with the team Saturday.
"If he feels good we should be able to get him in a couple games next week," Blashill said.