The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/01/12 at 03:48 PM ET
Updated 5x at 5:41 PM: Finally, per the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff:
#redwings also confirm they have signed F Damien Brunner to one-year, 2-way, entry level deal.
Update: the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness confirms:
A player that Wings coach Mike Babcock fell in love with at the World Championships will get a chance to show his worth at training camp. It’s being reported that Damien Brunner, who led the Swiss League in scoring last season, agreed to a one-year, two-way contract with Detroit.
“He’ll be a top six forward to start with us and see where he goes with us,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said of the Swiss-sniper. “I know a lot about him because I went to the World Championships and watched him play. The thing for us is he’s high paced, he scored, he looks like he has tons of skill,” Babcock added. “Can he adjust and play in the North American game? We’re going to give him every opportunity.”
Babcock felt Fabian Brunnstrom, who won a job in training camp last season, was a top-six forward last season and he played just five games in Detroit and had one assist. In Grand Rapids he had 12 goals and 23 assists in 45 games.
“I went to the World Championship and watched this guy practice every day, I watched him play, I stood in the hallway and let him walk by me,” Babcock said. “Now does that mean he’s any good? We think he is. Have I been wrong before? Many times.”
The Wings also like that Brunner is a right-handed shot.
“I encouraged Ken (Holland) to come, Ken looked at him and he liked him too, so we put our best foot forward and we think he’s a good fit,” Babcock said. “Our top six, (Johan) Franzen and (Pavel) Datsyuk and (Henrik) Zetterberg and (Valtteri Filppula) are all left-hand shots, this is a right-hand shot, who plays fast.”
Update #2: the Wings finally confirm at 5 PM:
The Red Wings have signed RW Damien Brunner to a one-year contact. Per club policy, terms of the deal are not disclosed
Brunner spent the past four seasons with EV Zug in Switzerland recording 190 points (78G-112A) in 167 games played.
Update #3: From MLive’s Ansar Khan...
Wings announce they’ve signed Swiss forward Damien Brunner to one-year, two-way, entry-level deal.
And the Free Press’s Helene St. James:
Red Wings make it official, announce signing coveted European UFA F Damien Brunner. Possibly had to wait for him to watch Euro final?
Money on F Damien Brunner is one-year, $925,000 plus bonuses. #RedWings
Little risk for #RedWings re: Brunner. It’s two-way deal, but they’re very high on him. “He can flat-out fly,” Mike Babcock tells Free Press
DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose confirms, too.
Update #4: per Ted Kulfan:
Wings officially ink Damien Brunner…remember him, the smallish Swiss undrafted free agent. Maybe next Fabian Brunnstrom; maybe not.
MLive’s Ansar Khan penned an article confirming:
The Detroit Red Wings have signed former Swiss scoring champ Damien Brunner to a one-year, two-way entry-level contract.
This move was in the making for more than a week, after Brunner had agreed to a deal with Detroit and negotiated a release from the final year of his contract with Zug of the Swiss league.
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was highly impressed with Brunner’s skills while watching him at the World Championships and said during this year’s entry draft that the 5-foot-11, 180-pound right wing will start the season as a top-six forward for Detroit.
Brunner, 26, isn’t big, but he’s a fast-skating, highly skilled winger who shoots right-handed. He led the Swiss-A league in scoring with 24 goals and 60 points in 45 games.
The biggest challenge for Brunner is adjusting to a more physical game in the NHL, in smaller rinks. But the Red Wings view this as a no-risk signing, since they can send him to the Grand Rapids Griffins if he doesn’t earn his spot in training camp.
“The thing for us is he’s high, high paced, he scored, looks like he has tons of skill,’’ Babcock said during the draft. “Can he adjust and play the North American game? We’re going to give him every opportunity. He’ll be a top-six forward to start with us and see where he goes with us.’‘
Here’s the Wings’ press release:
RED WINGS SIGN DAMIEN BRUNNER TO ONE-YEAR CONTRACT
… Winger Was Named Forward of the Year in Switzerland ’s National League A for 2011-12 …
Detroit, MI…The Detroit Red Wings today announced that free agent forward Damien Brunner has signed a one-year contract with the team. In accordance with club policy, additional terms of the deal will not be disclosed.
Brunner, 26, has spent the past four seasons with EV Zug of Switzerland ’s National League A where he has recorded 190 points (78G-112A) in 167 games played. In 2011-12, Brunner led the NLA in scoring with 60 points (24G-36A) in 45 games en route to being named the league’s top forward. The 5’10”, 176-lb. winger has played for Team Switzerland at two of the last three IIHF World Championships (2010 & 2012), totaling 14P-4G-8A-12P over the course of the two tournaments.
As much as the Detroit Red Wings want to add size and grit to their team, they couldn’t pass up the chance to add a small but highly skilled and speedy European.
Damien Brunner had already told the Wings they’d won his services 10 days ago but he couldn’t officially sign until July 1, the start of NHL free agency. There’s little risk involved for the Wings, because Brunner is locked into an entry-level contract, which maxes out at $925,000, plus bonuses, and it’s a one-year, two-way deal.
Brunner, 26, was a star scorer last year in his native Switzerland’s Swiss league, where he recorded 24 goals and 36 assists in 45 games. He caught the attention of Wings coach Mike Babcock during the Worlds Championships in May.
“Brunner flat out flies,” Babcock told the Free Press. “He can skate and he can score and he’s got high-end skill. He loves to score.
“He can play in our top six. He gives us a player for our top six. Now, the question is, he’s never played on a smaller rink. But I loved him at Worlds. I think he has a chance to be a good player. I’m excited about having him. He gives us a right-hand shot on the power play. For me, it’s a big deal. We sure think there’s an opportunity here for him, now he has to do it. Going from the big ice to small ice, you never know for sure. But others have done it, so why can’t this kid?”
Update #6: The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan also confirms.
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