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Abel to Yzerman

Time To End The Hudler Project

Late recap. So late in fact that I'll point you to On The Wings for theirs. In brief, another bittersweet win for our boys as Cleary stays hot, Samuelsson stays hot, Hasek gets hot precisely when we needed him to...and another Wing hits the IR, this time for an extended period of time. Now...the Kopecky situation. He lost an edge and slammed into the boards. Jim Vandermeer landed on top of him, the boards came next, successful surgery today and it's off to the IR he went, for up to twelve weeks. What does his loss mean to the Wings? Well, Jiri Hudler is probably going to get another chance, another doghouse reprieve. We can't send him down, and he can't play well enough, consistently enough, to deal him for anything of much value. So, we lose a gritty kid with attitude and feistiness only to gain an ongoing project with frustrating potential.

Deep Digger captain Ansar Khan(!) reports today that Meech has been sent back to GR, with Kronwall returning to the lineup tomorrow afternoon against New Jersey.  So the grit thing is offset a bit.  But, Hudler…what to do about this youngster? 

In 24 games, the kid has 4 points (all goals).  Even on the Wings, that is just pathetically low.  He’s averaging 9:19/game, but hasn’t played close to that amount since November 27th. He hasn’t registered a point in 9 games, and has only 4 shots over that period of time.  He brings nothing to the table defensively, which is an improvement over brief stints in recent years. 

It’s time to let him go and take the loss.  Hudler’s had his chances, too many of them in my opinion.  And while he’s been wasting opportunities, Matt Ellis has played 243 games in Grand Rapids…and none in Detroit.

Joe Conklin/Grand Rapids Press

Ellis’ leadership and play have impressed coach Greg Ireland.

“He’s been outstanding,” Ireland said. “He’s sending a message that he can, and wants to play at the next level. He deserves to.”

I went ahead and wrote Joe Conklin. He knows the abilities of the Griffs perhaps better than anyone.  Here’s what he had to say about Hudler and Ellis.

“Hudler is a pure scorer and playmaker with a very good shot. He needs more minutes to show what he can do. Ellis is a power forward who gets most of his goals within 10 feet of the net. He’s the hardest working player I’ve ever seen, both on and off the ice. He’s a first-class guy who is a perfect fit to be the Griffins’ captain. Every person in the Griffins’ organization wants to see Ellis get a NHL chance.”

Ellis, the Griffs’ captain, has to be an improvement over Hudler. 

What is the infatuation with this kid?  Who in the organization is so tied to him that we can’t jettison him? Is Hudler better than Rem Murray or Boyd Devereaux…two players the Wings passed on the last two training camps?  Can anyone tell me Hudler fits into the Babcock system…at all?

At what point does wasting a roster spot on his potential become too cumbersome?

Now, in his defense, Mike Babcock was pledging more ice time and Hudler hasn’t received it.  Considering his natural offensive potential, he was a natural fit on a struggling power play unit.  He had a few of those chances.  But he was a healthy scratch against Chicago and probably would have been again tomorrow night if not for the Kopecky injury.

The Wings won’t let him go now with nothing to gain.  But, I can’t see him making it past the trade deadline.  Either through his own inability to adapt to Babcock’s system, or Babcock’s refusal to play him for whatever reason…he’s reached the end in Hockeytown.

And if he pops a couple tomorrow in New Jersey?  Well, I naturally take it all back.

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About Abel to Yzerman

Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com

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