The transition from junior to pros, from playing teenagers to battling against men, can be tough. Cross Hanas handled it well during an injury-shortened season with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
The Detroit Red Wings were encouraged by what they saw from the 2020 second-round pick.
“Right before he got hurt, he was playing his best hockey,” Red Wings assistant general manager and Griffins GM Shawn Horcoff said. “There were certain stretches where he was a point-a-game player for 10-12 games, which is obviously hard to do at that level for a young player.”
Hanas tallied seven goals and 12 points in his first 15 games. He missed close to six weeks with a shoulder injury, returned on Jan. 4, but was done for the season a month later, needing shoulder surgery.
The 6-1, 180-pound left wing finished with nine goals and 17 points in 30 games.
Hanas continued his upward trajectory following a big leap in his fourth junior season at Portland (WHL) when he tallied 26 goals and 86 points in 63 games.
Horcoff said the Dallas native’s successful transition to the AHL was due in part to the strength he added in the offseason.
“One thing I was impressed with Cross was last year he had a really good summer and I think it’s showing,” Horcoff said. “His determination, his compete, his physicality improved, and he was able to go into the league and win some puck battles, win some 50-50s. Absolutely the hardest thing you find for young players in the American Hockey League is strength.
“And also, just the grind. You’re playing lots of games, there’s lots of travel. If you’re not in peak physical condition you can really lose your legs and it can become very difficult. So, the work that Cross put in paid off. I think that’s why he started to play even better hockey right before he got injured.”
Hanas is expected to be one of the top forwards for the Griffins in 2023-24 as he continues his development on a path that should lead to the NHL one day.
“He still had a good chunk of the season, but it’s really too bad, because I think he was just starting to find his stride,” Horcoff said.
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