Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings early overnight report: catching up on Tvrdon, Conner, MacDonald and Hudler

Updated 3x at 1:40 AM with foreign language news—this if your overnight report, folks: This has turned into a siege. As you already know, both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter have chosen to wait until at least Tuesday to make their decisions, and Jiri Hudler signed a 4-year deal with the Flames on Monday afternoon…

But my decision to just cram as much as I could into the mid-day post meant that you missed Mikael Samuelsson speaking to the Wings’ media corps, which you may or may not be interested in…

And Capgeek broke two intriguing stories:

• First, Damien Brunner’s contract includes $925,000 in base salary, $425,000 in performance bonuses and a $92,500 signing bonus, for a $1.35 million cap hit;

• And Capgeek let the world know that the Wings have signed Marek Tvrdon to a 3-year entry-level contract (he may or may not remain with the Giants for his overager season), which the Vancouver Giants are confirming tonight.

If you were just glancing at the Jiri Hudler thread, you might have missed another roster subtraction that MLive’s Brendan Savage is confirming this evening:

Chris Conner is on his way to Phoenix. Conner, who split last season between the Detroit Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL, has signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Phoenix Coyotes.

The 5-foot-8, 180-pound forward spent eight games with the Red Wings last season. He had one goal, two assists and no penalty minutes. In 57 games with Grand Rapids, he had 16 goals, 37 assists and 22 PIM.

 


In terms of this evening’s Red Wings news, aside from the Newark Star-Ledger’s Rich Chere stating that Parise “remains undecided,” Red Wings GM Ken Holland weighed in on the situation he and so many of his fellow GM’s find themselves in while speaking to the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness (who’s tossing off that $90 million offer to Sute in his blog), stating that his plans remain in flux until Suter and Parise make up their minds:

“There’s no blueprint to this time of year,” Holland said in a phone interview Monday. “We have to sit and wait just like anyone else.”

Parise was scheduled to return to his home in Minnesota to speak with his family before making a decision. The only team Parise would say was still in the running for his services was New Jersey, where he has spent his entire career. He would not reveal the other teams that are still in.

The Wings still believe they’re in the running for both teams.

“There is no timetable for his contract signing at this time,” Sheey said via email. “Ryan is considering his opportunities and is taking the necessary time to give each proper consideration.”

Holland also addressed the rumor that Joey MacDonald had asked for a trade—and this is more or less an inevitability because, as Pleiness points out, MacDonald’s contract is a one-way, NHL-only deal for the 2012-2013 season, which means he’d have to clear re-entry waivers if he was sent to Grand Rapids and then recalled:

“His agent called and wanted to know what was the plan for him,” Holland said. “He doesn’t want to be in the AHL. If we can find Joey an opportunity in the NHL, we will.”

And from here on, we shift focus a little bit as Holland addressed the departure of Jiri Hudler for Calgary (in both Pleiness’s article and his blog, too)...

“Huds gave us some good hockey through the years,” Holland said. “He helped us win a Stanley Cup in 2008. We drafted him and watched him develop into an NHL player. We made him a contract offer, shortly after the season. I didn’t really move a lot. I felt very comfortable with the offer we made.”
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“When we signed Mikael Samuelsson on Sunday that really probably sealed Jiri’s fate here,” Holland said. “We had an opening. We weren’t prepared to go to $4 million because we had other commitments. It worked out good for Jiri and we’re happy to have Sammy back.”

Because Holland also spoke to MLive’s Brendan Savage about letting Hudler go...

“When the season was over, I told his agent we were prepared for three years,” said general manager Ken Holland. “Obviously, my numbers were below $4 million. We talked a couple of times before July 1. It was apparent they wanted something that started with a 4. I was very comfortable with the offer we made. When we signed Mikael Samuelsson on Sunday, that probably sealed Jiri’s fate here. We had an opening. We weren’t prepared to go to $4 million because we had other commitments. It worked out good for Jiri and we’re happy to have Sammy back.

“Huds gave us some good hockey through the years. He helped us win a Stanley Cup in 2008 and get to the Finals in 2009. We drafted him and watched him develop into an NHL player.”

And Savage also listened in on the conference call Hudler conducted with the Flames, sounding a little bit like someone who’d graduated from the Wings to move on to bigger and better things with a 4-year, $16 million contract in his back pocket. Hudler suggested that he learned how to be a go-to player in Detroit, and that he will apply his lessons in Calgary, where he feels he’ll face more pressure to succeed:

“If something goes wrong, no panicking,” Hudler said. “You can always figure out a way to turn things around when things go bad. Little things like that. I was fortunate enough to play with (Red Wings veterans). The work ethic was incredible. I learned a lot and I’m going to use it later on in my career starting now. I don’t mind pressure. When you use it the right way, it motivates you and makes you better. I’m just going to go into training camp ready and in shape. Things can go wrong but like I said, I’m going to do my best to do what I do.”

Flames general manager Jay Feaster targeted Hudler before free agency began Sunday and expects Hudler to be one of Calgary’s top six forwards. Hudler had a career-high 25 goals among 50 points in 81 games for the Red Wings last season. He was second in the NHL when it came to even-strength goals and that appealed to the Flames, who ranked 24th among 30 teams in goals per game (2.43) and 25th in even-strength goals (134).

“Jiri Hudler is a highly skilled and dynamic offensive player,” Feaster said. “He is one of the very best goal scorers in the NHL at even strength and he puts a very high percentage of his shots on net, generating scoring chances for himself and rebound opportunities for his teammates. He fits our need to upgrade and improve our skill. He’s going to have an opportunity to flourish.”
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“Obviously it makes me feel really good the way Jay is talking about me,” Hudler said. “I’ve got to get there and prove what the organization thinks I can do. I’m really excited about it.”

Hudler also spoke gushily to CalgaryFlames.com’s Torie Peterson (prepare to cringe):

There is no question hockey is beloved in Detroit but newest Calgary Flames forward Jiri Hudler knows that love pales in comparison to the fervor surrounding the sport in Canada.

“Passion for hockey in Canada, it’s unmatched,” Hudler said on Monday afternoon. “Calgary has got a lot of history. A lot of tradition too. People are really passionate about (hockey) and that’s exciting ... I’m looking forward to this opportunity.”

The forward signed a four-year deal with the Flames on Monday after an aggressive pursuit by the club. General Manager Jay Feaster and his hockey operations staff knew they would target Hudler on July 1st and spoke with his agent early Sunday afternoon. They continued to talk to his agent throughout the day and well into the evening hours before picking the conversation up again on Monday morning. The two sides came to terms and Feaster couldn’t be happier about the deal.

“For us to be able to bring in a player of this caliber and improve the skill level of our top-six forwards, this a great day for us,” Feaster said.

Hudler comes to the Flames after spending his entire career in Detroit, suiting up for 409 games, amassing 87 goals and 214 points. He scored a career-high 25 goals last season while posting 50 points in 81 games. He finished second in the NHL in terms of even-strength scoring and managed to get over 65 percent of his shots through to the net - creating chances not only for himself but for his linemates via rebounds. With those kind of numbers and his continued progression during his tenure with the Red Wings, he understands expectations will be high this season.

“I’m going to have a bigger role but with that, pressure comes in. I never liked being without pressure. Pressure is a good thing when you use it the right way. This is just the start. I’m going to work and I’ve got to prove what the organization believes I can do. I know that and I’m really excited about it.”

If you want to hear Hudler speak, you can listen to him via a clip from TSN, though all you’re going to hear is, “It’s hard to leave Detroit but it’s a great opportunity”....

But the Globe and Mail’s Eric Duhatschek offers an “expert’s take” on what Hudler’s signing means for Calgary…

Say this about the Flames. They are not afraid to open their wallets in pursuit of an NHL playoff spot, after three years on the outside looking in. Hudler’s signing pushes their payroll for the 2012-13 season up to $65.943-million, which is second in the NHL behind only the Boston Bruins. The salary cap for next year is currently set at $70.2 million, but that could change, depending upon how collective bargaining negotiations between the league and the players association unfold.

In addition to Hudler, the Flames previously shelled out $26.5-million on a five-year deal to defenceman Dennis Wideman and re-signed two of their own free agents, defenceman Cory Sarich and forward Less Stempniak, to new, two-year contracts.

Hudler, a clever 50-point scorer last season, went to free agency because the Detroit Red Wings were not willing to commit to a four-year term for a player that was always a subordinate piece on a team that relied heavily on catalysts Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. According to Calgary general manager Jay Feaster, Hudler will play an expanded role on the Flames likened Hudler’s signing to a deal he made with the Toronto Maple Leafs for Freddie Modin in 1999, back when Modin was cast mostly in a third-line role. Playing up on a scoring line with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Modin produced multiple 30-goal seasons.

Hudler joins a Flames’ team that includes another Czech, Roman Cervenka, who was signed as a free agent out of Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League. Cervenka, 27, was widely viewed as one of the most talented players never to play in the NHL and he had his finest season in Russia playing alongside Jaromir Jagr. Cervenka was actually at Hudler’s house in Prague, about six or seven or weeks ago, watching the Champions League final, and Hudler gave him some insight into what to expect in his first NHL season.

“It’s a coincidence we end up on the same team,” said Hudler, who said Cervenka was taking English lessons. “Whatever he’s going to need,  I’m going to be there for him.”
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Hudler, for his part, sounded excited about the move from Hockeytown to Cowtown.

“Passion for hockey in Canada is unmatched,” said Hudler. “There is a lot of history, a lot of tradition and that’s exciting. I just want to be one of the pieces to help this team, step by step, get better and better. Calgary has great players starting with [Miikka] Kiprusoff, [Jay] Bouwmeester, Wideman, [Mark] Giordano. I can’t name everybody. Jarome Iginla. Pure leader. Goal scorer. Amazing player. [Mike] Cammalleri. I can go on and on. There’s a lot of winners in that dressing room. I just want to be part of that.”

And a second “expert’s take” slowly but surely brings us back toward the Wings, especially given that the “experts” insist that Parise is going to Pittsburgh, because ESPN’s Scott Burnside speaks at some length about Hudler, noting the following…

Head coach Bob Hartley—who offered to drive to Montreal to meet with Hudler before the contract was signed—has already indicated he will use Hudler on the power play and the penalty kill and that he will log top six minutes for the Flames.

Does the increased opportunity suggest Hudler’s top end may exceed what he revealed in a more limited role in Detroit?

But it’s his introduction that’s particularly intriguing to me, especially given that I can’t imagine the Wings landing both Suter and Parise:

We recall being in the Detroit Red Wings dressing room during training camp in the fall of 2010 and head coach Mike Babcock was joking about Jiri Hudler and what Babcock referred to as Hudler’s “Russian vacation”.

Ha, ha. Actually, it turned out not to be all that funny as Hudler, who defected from the Red Wings for a year in the Kontinental Hockey League after a dispute over an arbitration case while a restricted free agent, never really regained his favored son status with the Wings.

He scored just 10 goals that first season back, less than half what he tallied in his previous season in the NHL, and while he hit a career-high 25 goals last season for the Wings, it is telling that a team with loads of cap space that is looking for offensive help chose to let Hudler walk away to sign a four-year deal with the Calgary Flames Monday worth $16 million.

The Wings, busy in their pursuit of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise and with scads of cap room, decided that was too much for Hudler. Or rather that was too much Hudler at that price.

Pending the landing place for Parise, we’ll see if the Wings end up coming around to a guy like Alexander Semin who has far more up-side in terms of offensive production but has all kinds of baggage linked to his compete level or lack thereof. If they go that route, perhaps they’ll be sorry they didn’t do more to keep Hudler whom they drafted with the 58th overall pick in 2002.

Burnside’s a Hudler fan, obviously, but if we’re going to talk about comeuppances, and players with baggage, I must note that the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff engaged in a most revealing conversation with a Wings fan earlier this afternoon on Twitter:

Brennan Ideson: ‏@BrennanIdeson: @asktheduffer I would almost prefer the Wings having Hudler at $4mil per year then Samuelsson at $3mil wouldnt you???

Bob Duff@asktheduffer: @BrennanIdeson No. Hudler wore out his welcome here. Not popular in room. Samuelsson streaky, but at least he tries every game.

Now that tells you something about baggage.

I liked Hudler, despite his bad reputation, but I’ve also learned over the years that the really bad reputations tend to have a grain of truth to them. Those who suggested that Sergei Fedorov was quite the “rock star” during the latter half of his career with Detroit simply because of the celebrities he romanced have more or less been vindicated by admissions from both media and members of the team that Fedorov’s commitment to the game on the ice wasn’t nearly as dedicated as it had been prior to his holdout…

And Hudler, well, when he came back, I couldn’t help but think that, especially after his moribund return to the NHL despite working with T.R. Goodman in Los Angeles prior to the 2010-2011 season, he was going to play out the string on his contract and leave. Add in his agent, Petr Svoboda, tossing out as many, “But Jiri loves Detroit’s” this spring tha he did before engineering Hudler’s “Russian vacation,” and given that Holland seemed to be downright disinterested in terms of attempting to retain Hudler’s services…

Something happened along the way and something went sour. I’m not about to speculate, but I think that what happened today was supposed to happen.

If you prefer a statistical analysis of Hudler’s departure, TSN’s Scott Cullen will provide you with just that, but it seems to me that his last paragraph is the most pertinent one…

Hudler’s departure does leave a hole in Detroit’s top six forward spots, but the Red Wings have options, whether it’s free agents that are still available, recently signed Swiss forward Damien Brunner or a prospect like Gustav Nyquist. It’s not likely that Detroit will go into next season without a capable replacement filling Hudler’s role.

Thank you, Dr. Science. Official wink

 


So while we wait for the Red Wings to be allowed by Mr. Suter and Mr. Parise to reshape their blueline and determine the shape of their roster for at least the next three or four years…

Let’s revisit the Jordin Tootoo signing, as the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff found it fascinating that Ken Holland was willing to admit that he acquiesced to Mike Babcock’s request for a player to “keep the flies off” for a very specific reason:

“We played against Nashville, we know him,” Holland said of Tootoo. “He’s physical, he gets under the skin of our players. It’s an ingredient we’ve always talked about. We wanted to get some physical play into our game and we signed Jordin Tootoo. We think he’ll provide an element of an edge to our team in the bottom six (forwards).”

Always a team which first put the emphasis on skill, the Wings made early playoff exits in each of the past three springs, and this past season, as the playoffs wore on, it became painfully evident that Detroit’s style of play wasn’t going to work anymore in the biggest games of the season.

The Wings also upped their physical size with their other forward move, adding former Wing Mikael Samuelsson, who will basically replace the role of diminutive Jiri Hudler, who signed with Calgary Monday.

As for Tootoo, he’ll bring an element that’s been lacking in Detroit for some time.

“My foundation is being a physical presence but at the same time I know I can contribute offensively,” Tootoo said.

Tootoo, a friend of Wings centre Darren Helm, said the Detroit offer came out of the blue, but he jumped at the chance.

“I need a change,” Tootoo said. “Fortunately, the Red Wings caught my attention and I’m glad to be a part of it.”

And as it did get squished and all but pushed to the curb, let’s revisit what Mikael Samuelsson had to say during his conference call with the Wings’ media, via Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji (and RedWingsFeed). Samuelsson is indeed 35, but for a player who left Detroit for the 2009 salary cap’s version of what the Wings were offering Hudler—very specifically so the Wings could retain Hudler when he bolted—that advanced age will hopefully translate into a little more urgency in his game:

“The main reason when I choose a team at this point in my career is if they’re going have a chance to win or not,” Samuelsson said. “That’s the main reason why I chose Detroit. I know many of the players there, and I know what it’s like from last time. It was a really tough decision for me to leave the last time I did. It’s very comfortable for me here. It shouldn’t take me any time to get adjusted to the game or the system that they’re playing. I know they play the same way like they did when I left.”

Samuelsson was a key member of the 2008 Stanley Cup championship team and will be expected to replace the contributions of Jiri Hudler, who signed a four-year, $16 million contract with the Calgary Flames Monday. Hudler had 25 goals and 25 assists in 81 games.

Samuelsson, 35, had 13 goals and 15 assists in only 48 games with the Florida Panthers due to injury. In his two previous seasons with the Vancouver Canucks in 2009 and 2010, Samuelsson had 53 points (30 goals) and 50 points (18 goals), respectively. In the postseason with the Wings, Samuelsson had five goals among 10 points in the 2008-09 playoffs and five goals among 13 points in the 2007-08 playoffs.

Samuelsson doesn’t expect his role will be too different this time.

“They know what kind of player I am, they know what they get from me,” Samuelsson said. “First of all, my thoughts are if you play good, you’re going to earn your ice time. Hopefully, my role can be what it was last time, which was being on the second line and contribute, and can be on the power play as well. I can play actually in a lot of different situations, in my mind.”

In addition to rejoining what he believes to be a championship contender, Samuelsson is also glad to be back with the many Swedes on the Wings. He’s already heard from Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall.

“This doesn’t feel right now like I’m changing teams again,” Samuelsson said. “It feels like I know what the organization is about, and I think I know how we play, or supposed to play, and I know the guys. It’s not going to be one of these situations where you have to take some time to adapt in a couple of weeks to learn the new guys. I know a lot of the guys in the locker room there.”

I hope it works out for you, Sammy, and I hope that sometime on Tuesday, Wings fans find out how their team’s future will unfold as Suter and Parise make their decisions.

 


And here comes the button: I’m trying to defer the cost of attending the Red Wings’ summer prospect camp in Traverse City from July 7-14. You’ve helped me afford to leave on Friday and stay in Traverse City, but I still can’t afford to get there and back in terms of gas or eat in terms of food, so if you shake some pennies out of your pockets, I would greatly appreciate it.




You’ll have to use my personal email address, rtxg at yahoo dot com, to donate, and if you want to aid the cause by some other manner or means, fire me an email at that address or at georgemalik at kuklaskorner dot com.

 

Update: Here’s the first Calgary Sun article on Hudler, from Wes Gilbertson. Flames GM Jay Feaster sure wanted to grab Dennis Wideman to prove that the Flames “weren’t rebuilding,” and it sounds like he felt the same about Hudler:

“We were not out there saying, ‘OK, let’s throw five lines in the water and maybe we’ll catch Jiri and maybe we won’t but we’ll catch someone else,’” Feaster said. “I told (Hudler’s agent Petr Svoboda), ‘I’ll be candid, we’re all in with you. We have not been going after other guys in this top-six forward role, because this is our guy.’

“We were not out there saying, ‘let’s hedge our bets with this guy or that guy.’ We put all the poker chips in the middle of the table on Jiri.”

On this hand, they came up aces. After five full seasons with the Detroit Red Wings (and one winter with Moscow Dynamo of the KHL), the 28-year-old Hudler put his signature Monday afternoon on a four-year, US$16-million pact with the Flames. Feaster & Co. won’t start summer vacation as soon as the ink dries, but they’ve now crossed the two major items off their to-do list.

Hudler is the top-six forward they were shooting for. Dennis Wideman, who was acquired in a trade with the Washington Capitals last week and immediately signed to a five-year, $26.25-million contract, is the puck-moving defenceman they desperately needed. As a bonus, Feaster completed both tasks for the amount of dollars he figured would be necessary.

“We went hard at this and we went aggressive from the beginning,” said Feaster, who called Hudler’s agent shortly after the gun sounded on Canada Day. “This wasn’t one of those where we’re saying, ‘Let’s see if we can lowball this.’ We came right out of the box with our offer.”
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“I felt that, for a lot of reasons, we had a real good chance to get Brad [Richards] last year,” Feaster said. “And I know that it was difficult for Brad. What may have been a coronation for the Rangers early in the day on July 1, it became a wait and see because we were a serious contender. At the end of the day, though, we lost that battle. And that was one of the things that we talked about afterward—that we put everything we had into that and we weren’t successful. And as you’re doing that, the rest of the world is passing you by.”

The Free Press’s Helene St. James has written two articles for the Tuesday edition of the Freep, and the Sacramento Bee posted them early. Here’s her story about Mikael Samuelsson’s return...

“Then main reason when I choose a team at this point, is if they have a chance to win or not,” Samuelsson said. “That’s the main reason I chose Detroit. I know what kind of place it is - it was really tough decision for me to leave last time around. It’s very comfortable to me there. It shouldn’t take any time for me to get adjusted to the game or system we play. “

Samuelsson, 35, left for Vancouver in 2009. When he was once again available as an unrestricted free agent, the Wings signed Samuelsson to a two-year, $6-million contract. Samuelsson was a 30-goal scorer his first season with the Canucks. He was traded early last season to Florida, where he missed 28 games because of injuries. In all, he produced 14 goals and 17 assists in 54 games.

He appealed to the Wings because he’s 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, shoots right and has a big shot. Whether he ends up among the top six or bottom six group of forwards, he’ll be a regular on the power play, just like last time.

“I know what it’s about,” he said. “If you play good, you get your ice time, and that’s what it should be about. Doesn’t matter if you play on first or second or third line.”

While the Wings have undergone change since Samuelsson last played for them he still sees great potential.

“Red Wings is very high skilled team and they still have those players,” he said. “I think I am coming to very good team. They have holes to fill, yeah, but it’s definitely a contender and that’s why I chose that team. I hoped to hear from them and I did. I’m so glad to be back.”

And while you can read her quips and quotes from both Jiri Hudler (he talked to Todd Bertuzzi about the Flames) and Ken Holland (who says he offered Hudler 3 years and whatever was rumored, $3.2 million, and stuck to his guns)about his departure, this is much more important going forward:

The Wings began the changes up front Sunday when they added Mikael Samuelsson, Damien Brunner and Jordin Tootoo, who, all but officially, have eliminated any chance that Tomas Holmstrom might return. Holmstrom, 39, said late last month he’d meet with general manager Ken Holland soon after free agency began, but Holmstrom’s retirement largely has been expected since the playoffs ended.

As is this:

The Wings took one pre-emptive step toward replacing Hudler by signing Brunner and another by bringing back Samuelsson. To the Wings’ advantage, both of those guys shoot right, something that’s been missing from the power play.

The team also plans to give Gustav Nyquist, who had an extremely impressive rookie season, every shot at making the top six next season.

“We signed Brunner, we’ve got Nyquist, we signed Mikael Samuelsson,” Holland said. “We’re looking to give Brunner and Nyquist an opportunity. We’ll continue to explore the market place via free agency or trade.”

The Wings have about $17 million in salary cap space, but have $5 million of that earmarked to re-sign restricted free agents Justin Abdelkader and Kyle Quincey. Teams can go 10 percent over the $70.2-million salary cap as long as they’re compliant by the start of the season. However, because a new collective bargaining agreement has to be negotiated, the Wings are bearing in mind that the cap could change.

Sunday’s additions brought the Wings to 15 forwards under contract for next season, not counting Abdelkader. Some of those will be trimmed before camp, as the Wings continue to forge a fiercer identity after three straight playoff disappointments.

 

Update #2: Okey dokey, here’s MLive’s Ansar Khan’s article for Tuesday morning. He’s confirming that the Wings will indeed attempt to trade Joey MacDonald sometime this summer:

Joey MacDonald does not want to spend another season in the AHL, so Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland will try to find him a new NHL team.

The Red Wings upgraded their backup goaltending position by signing free agent Jonas Gustavsson to a two-year, $3 million contract on Sunday.

Holland said he will try to trade MacDonald, who had hoped to be in line for the job as Jimmy Howard’s backup after a strong showing in Detroit late last season.

“His agent called, he wanted to know what the plan was with Joey,’’ Holland told MLive.com. “He doesn’t want to be in the AHL. Certainly, if we can find Joey an opportunity in the NHL we’ll do it.’‘

The problem is, there aren’t many teams in the market for a backup goalie. MacDonald’s best opportunity for a move might be through waivers just before the start of the season.

MacDonald’s agent, Michael Wulkan, didn’t respond to a phone message.

MacDonald has one year remaining on his contract at $550,000. It’s one way, meaning he’ll get paid the same whether he’s in the NHL or the AHL.

 

Update #3: Okay, here’s more on the Flames’ courting of Hudler from the Calgary Sun’s Randy Sportak…

Head coach Bob Hartley volunteered to make the 90-minute drive from his home in Wentworth, Que., to Montreal to help lure Hudler to join the fold.

“Jiri started to laugh and said he’d make his decision in 30 minutes and said, ‘You don’t need to drive. I’m pretty sure we’re going to talk again,’ ” Hartley said. “I said, ‘Pretty sure doesn’t cut it. I want to be really sure.’ ”

Hartley’s always high excitement level is off the charts.

“If someone told me we’d get Dennis Wideman and Jiri Hudler, I’d have told them we can stop there. That’s a huge upgrade on the blueline and in the top-six forwards,” Hartley said. “Coming out of Detroit and playing with Datsyuk, Zetterberg, all those guys, and he’s entering his prime, he can use all he’s done there and bring it to us.”

As a side benefit, the Flames also have a fellow Czech to help mentor Roman Cervenka, the 26-year-old KHL star who is making the move to the NHL this season. By fluke, Cervenka was at Hudler’s home in Prague in late May to watch the UEFA Champions League final with no idea they were destined to be teammates.

“He was asking me questions about the NHL, was really excited,” Hudler said. “It’s coincidence we end up on the team. Whatever he’s going to need. It’s going to be tougher than usual, but he’s been around hockey a long time and I’ll be there for him.”

It sure seems like an obvious line combination.

“It’s tough to say,” Hudler said. “We’ve played together just a couple of times. But I know him as a player and watched him live. He’s really smart. He scores a lot of goals, always did, but nothing’s guaranteed.”

• The Herald re-published Wes Gilbertson’s story;

• And in Czech, Hudler told iSport’s Miroslav Horak and Pavel Barta that the Flames called at 12:01 PM EDT, that they called twice, and he claims that while there were several teams and more money on the table, he knew he’d get the most ice time and the biggest role with Calgary.


In Slovak, Marek Tvrdon told Sport.sk’s Ondrej Hutan that he is thrilled about signing with the Wings, though he expects to continue playing for the Vancouver Giants;

 

In Swedish, as a companion to yesterday’s Dagbladet interview with Henrik Zetterberg, he spoke to ST.nu’s Mattias Deckert today, and the only stuff of note is that he’s in Sundsvall as he says he’s splitting time between Alno in southern Sweden, where Emma’s family lives, and Sundsvall, he doubts that he’ll play for Timra IK at the end of his career as he’s locked up with the Wings until he’s 41, and he says that it, “Would be special to be the captain” in Detroit, he knows the Wings will decide that particular issue during training camp and the exhibition season;

• And according to VLT.se’s Bo Lundkvist, when Nicklas Lidstrom was honored by the city of Vasteras at its Cityfestivalen—and by Gordie Howe, I shit you not, Lundkvist spelled his name “Lindstrom”—Lidstrom simply said that his favorite memory from his NHL career was winning the first Cup in 97, though it was hard to choose, that he felt “great” about being honored by his hometown, and he offered this prediction about his future:

“I will be a real hockey dad,” said Nicklas Lidstrom.

 


In English, via NHL Gossip, I’m still finding this statement by TSN’s Darren Dreger hard to believe...

The free agent market is in virtual gridlock waiting for Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to announce where they intend to spend the next 10-plus years of their lives. Both players have been bombarded with mega-term, mega-million dollar offers, so the decision now comes down to where each player wants to be, and believes he has the best chance of winning a Stanley Cup.

This isn’t just a waiting game, it’s a game of dominos.

The most impacted player by this process is Columbus Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash, who sits quietly on the sidelines waiting for a trade, a deal that Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson thinks will bring a premium return once those teams who fail to land Parise are identified.

The New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers stand as the top three Nash trade targets, although Carolina, a club not originally on Nash’s list, may be intriguing enough for the star forward to consider expanding the list of teams he’s willing to go to.

The San Jose Sharks are also on the list, but, they will not make a deal if Logan Couture has to be included, so they remain somewhat of a long-shot.

I will eat my Warrior Hockey hat if Nash comes to Detroit, because he’d cost half the damn team.

The Rangers have wanted him forever, and the Flyers may be willing to do the whole two top six forwards, a defenseman, two or three top prospects and multiple first round draft picks shuffle for Nash if they don’t land Parise. I don’t like to hazard guesses, but I think Alex Semin will come to Detroit if Parise doesn’t.

• I would be remiss to not mention that the Free Press will hold a chat with Wings draft pick Jake Paterson sometime this afternoon;

• And finally, before I go to bed, anyway, via RedWingsFeed, here’s MLive’s Ansar Khan’s late night take on the Suter and Parise sweepstakes:

The Red Wings appear to have a better chance at landing Suter, the strong all-around defenseman from Nashville, than Parise, the high-scoring left wing from New Jersey. The Red Wings were given no indication Monday that they are out of consideration for either player, nor were they given a time frame on a decision from either.

Suter’s agent, Neil Sheehy, said in an email: “There will be no decision on Ryan Suter tonight and there is no timetable for his contract signing at this time. Ryan is considering his opportunities and is taking the necessary time to give each proper consideration.’‘

Various reports indicate Suter still is considering offers from Nashville, Minnesota, Philadelphia and possibly Pittsburgh, in addition to Detroit.

Parise, meanwhile, told reporters on Monday that he is returning home to Minnesota to talk with his family and that he has no time frame on a decision.

“I’m getting closer but haven’t made a decision,’’ Parise told media gathered outside his agent’s office in Mississauga, Ontario, according to the Canadian Press. “I haven’t set any deadlines.’‘

Parise told media that the Devils are still in the mix. But he would not reveal what other teams are still in it. Several reports indicate Pittsburgh, Minnesota and Chicago, a late entry into the fray, are being considered. It is not certain if the Red Wings are in the mix.

It appears many other free agents are waiting for Parise and Suter to make their decisions before they sign.

That last part encourages me. It’s good to know that players like Semin and Carle want to be contenders’ back-up plans. They want to get paid, sure, but they want to win, too.

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Let’s look at everything from the positive side:
Ken Holland does listen to Mike Babcock
When the Wings have won their Cups, they did have some physical presence (Shanahan, Kocur, McCarty, Stuart, Downey, ?Drake, etc.) that usually had some offensive skill. Tootoo at least has some offensive skill, which to me seems a prerequisite to stick with the team for long (e.g., Downey not having much offense), and losing Stuart, dwindled the “snarl” even more and needed replacing. Parise and Suter aren’t known for “snarl” like a Weber, so to speak. Correct me if I’m wrong.

We won’t question whether Tootoo wants to be here, nor Samuelsson (even with his inconsistency). We were still having doubts about Hudler.
If they get both biggies, celebrate, then worry about who to trade (maybe for draft picks? one more defenseman) among the forwards and McDonald.
If they get one of the two, celebrate, and still enough cap space to get another defenseman like Carle and still forwards/McDonald to trade (Ryan?).
If they get neither, fill with the second tier like Carle and (gulp) Semin and start working the phones to trade some of the forwards.

Good night, and drop it from your thoughts—you’ll sleep better, and it’s not like the situation’s going to change between now and waking up (If I could get you do this George, too, I would somehow, but this is your job).

Posted by Bugsy on 07/03/12 at 12:31 AM ET

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Head coach Bob Hartley—who offered to drive to Montreal to meet with Hudler before the contract was signed—has already indicated he will use Hudler on the power play and the penalty kill and that he will log top six minutes for the Flames.

Get back to me on how that works for you, Bob.

Posted by sabby on 07/03/12 at 01:06 AM ET

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Best thing about the Hudler article is where they say he’s going to play PK.

Posted by exiledinla from LA, CA on 07/03/12 at 01:09 AM ET

Hippy Dave's avatar

Sad to see a Michigan native leave the nest in Chris Conner, but I wish him the best.

Posted by Hippy Dave from Portland by way of Detroit on 07/03/12 at 01:33 AM ET

SYF's avatar

Head coach Bob Hartley—who offered to drive to Montreal to meet with Hudler before the contract was signed—has already indicated he will use Hudler on the power play and the penalty kill and that he will log top six minutes for the Flames.


Seriously???

Posted by SYF from The Revenge of Johnny E on 07/03/12 at 01:37 AM ET

Hippy Dave's avatar

we had other commitments

“It’s beyond my control!”

Posted by Hippy Dave from Portland by way of Detroit on 07/03/12 at 01:38 AM ET

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Oh my .. Hudler signed with Calgary ... now we get to watch him every saturday night on HNIC. Gotta wonder if he’s going to end up on a line with Iggy & Tanguay.

Last summer most were surprised when Holland signed Ian White, mainly because no one was talking him up as being an important player to sign.  I had posted in a couple of threads that people would be pleasantly surprised at how well White would fit in and exceed their performance expectations.  Being Lidstrom’s partner didn’t hurt but, as stated, he had a fine season and showed he was worthy of wearing the Winged Wheel.

This year we have Jordin Tootoo… another one of those ‘holy crap!’ kind of signings.  Anyone with half a brain knows how difficult he is to play against. He’d sooner run you into the boards than let you skate past him.  But Jordin brings so much more than just his physical game.  First, he loves hockey more than he loves life itself and gives 110% every second of every shift.  Second, he’s an excellent skater. Tootoo and Helm on the PK could be an amazing pairing. Third, he does have offencive skills.  By the end of the 2012-13 season he’ll be another that will exceed the expectations of many.

I get the Samuelsson replaces Hudler scenario. We didn’t get to see him much while he was in Florida, but while he was with Vancouver he was just as inconsistent as he was here. Lets hope he’ll get that worked out this time around.

Gustavsson is going to be fun to watch. He’s a big body and moves well. Considering how mediocre the Toronto team was in front of him, he had games that made them look cup worthy ... not an easy feat.  He will make Jimmy a better goalie.

Filling holes ... filling roles ... covering up in case Cleary’s knee gives out again or Eaves concussion woes don’t clear up.  So far so good.

Come Tuesday or Wednesday we’ll find out if we get Suter or Parise.  Thinking we’ll land both is a pipe dream but stranger things have happened. Regardless of the outcome, there is a big trade coming. Its just one of those things you feel deep in your bones. Holland has something up his sleeve and its going to be a shocker ... maybe a 3-way with Toronto and Columbus so we end up with Nash ... or maybe it’ll be an offer Brian Murray can’t refuse to let us have Karlsson.  Its going to be a biggy and it’ll have the entire hockey community scraping their faces off the ice.

The fun has just begun.  One more restless nights sleep and it’ll all be over.

Posted by Hockeytown Wax from West Bloomfield, Mi. on 07/03/12 at 01:49 AM ET

SYF's avatar

I’ll actually be okay with Parise staying in NJ, but holy hell, we sure need Suter.

Posted by SYF from The Revenge of Johnny E on 07/03/12 at 01:56 AM ET

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I have this weird feeling that they’re both going to Minnesota. I hope I’m wrong, this would be ridiculous and for no other reason than raising their families and their lives after hockey. But stranger things have happened.

Posted by Alex from San Francisco on 07/03/12 at 02:01 AM ET

Hippy Dave's avatar

btw SYF- awesome.  You win one internet.

Posted by Hippy Dave from Portland by way of Detroit on 07/03/12 at 03:33 AM ET

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Rumor has Wings offer to Suter 12 years 90MM, for the sake of argument lets say Parise gets the same 12 years 90MM. Rumors have the Red Wings telling Parise and Suter that if they both come to Detroit, they will get the “Mike Ilitch Atomic contracts.”  This revised contract offer will be 13 years each and 101MM-103MM. IF AND ONLY IF THEY BOTH SIGN WITH DETROIT.  Now, they each get bonuses for 2 years 12MM for 1st year 11MM for year 2.  I am told that the huge up-front money is specifically designed to “knock-out” the Pens, the Hawks and NJ.  Apparently, these teams simply cannot be a viable business enterprise,  trying to match Ilitch’s atomic contract.  Fielder contract, Ilitch gets his men.

Posted by beelza on 07/03/12 at 03:49 AM ET

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Given Parise’s statement that winning the cup is paramount, I don’t understand how Minnie is even in the discussion.  “Prospects” yes, actual proven success, not so much.  Got to think Chicago is already too top-heavy to be a consistent cup contender.  If Cindy Crosby gets another 12-month headache, what’s the point of even being in Pitt?  (Not to mention tying up half their payroll in 4 -5 guys.) That leaves us & NJ.  Since he hasn’t closed the deal, nor even spoken to KH, I suspect he’s building up to go back to NJ but I don’t believe they will win the cup again before we do.

On Suter, it was nice to hear Tootoo & Sammy say cup chances were a big part of their decision.  Maybe having Tootoo also helps Suter know he doesn’t have to be the enforcer.  (Plus Preds’ woeful offense is now a bit worse.)  Regarding cup prospects, only Philly is likely but what quiet, retiring midwestern boy wants to play in that market? We are the obvious choice here but maybe he has priorities he hasn’t publicly admitted to yet.

Maybe in a few hours, we’ll know…

Posted by vfsvfl on 07/03/12 at 07:35 AM ET

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Does the increased opportunity suggest Hudler’s top end may exceed what he revealed in a more limited role in Detroit?

Yeah, he’ll probably do better in Calgary than in his “limited” top-six role playing with one of the best centres in the league in Detroit.

Posted by Garth on 07/03/12 at 08:11 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

The 12/90 figure is no rumor. Khan and Pleiness bot reported that figure. The MSM on TSN, etc. has also reported that any Parise suitor has to pony up a $12 million signing bonus.

I’m awake early due to incredibly heavy rain and lightning rattling the windows as a lone of severe thunderstorms rolled through South Lyon around 7:30. Here’s hoping that means big changes on the way.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 07/03/12 at 09:09 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

Will be driving for about 7 hours today.  Less stress not thinking about it.

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with Super Creepy Rob Lowe. on 07/03/12 at 09:29 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

”...[Hudler’s] going to have an opportunity to flourish [In Calgary]...”

Which he obviously didn’t have in Detroit?

I also wish all the best to Chris Connor.  Liked the guy a lot, but obviously his NHL opportunities are limited in Detroit.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 07/03/12 at 09:42 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

Bob Duff ‏@asktheduffer: @BrennanIdeson No. Hudler wore out his welcome here. Not popular in room. Samuelsson streaky, but at least he tries every game.

I read this and especially the “at least he tries every game” part and I can’t help but think if Franzen’s welcome may wear out soon. Food fer thought….

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 07/03/12 at 10:12 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

I read this and especially the “at least he tries every game” part and I can’t help but think if Franzen’s welcome may wear out soon. Food fer thought….

Posted by Vladimir16 on 07/03/12 at 09:12 AM ET

Yep.  For some reason, Franzen’s name always pops into my head when the idea of “trade” comes up.  I love the Mule, and when he’s on his game, he’s lethal, but the past couple of seasons, not so much.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 07/03/12 at 10:51 AM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.