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St. James: Jiri Hudler might not fit the Red Wings’ blueprint going forward

Nicklas Lidstrom freak-out talk included—and Lidstrom won’t be making a decision until the middle of the month, so the whole Twitter/Facebook misunderstanding boondoggle was nothing more than that—we do know that the Red Wings’ brass will be meeting, according to MLive’s Ansar Khan and the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan, from June 2nd to 4th to formulate their roster plans going forward, with the futures of Lidstrom, Tomas Holmstrom, Brad Stuart and Jiri Hudler uncertain at best.

This afternoon, the Free Press’s Helene St. James wonders whether Hudler, who acrimoniously left the team to sign with Dynamo Moscow as a restricted free agent two summers ago, and who could obviously earn more on the open market than he can in Detroit, will be part of the team’s future plans, especially with the Wings looking to add a forward who can do more than score the 25 goals Hudler registered this past season as something of a perimeter player:

Hudler is only 28 years old. This is his first experience as a UFA. He’s coming off a productive season and has every reason to expect a raise. He has a knack for scoring, having done so at every level of hockey and in the playoffs. He had 23 goals in 2008-09 and produced double-digit points in both the ‘08 and ‘09 playoffs.

Hudler can score, but what else does he bring? He’s not a great skater. He’s not great in his own zone. He definitely benefited from playing this season with Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula, two of the game’s best two-way centers. In fairness to Hudler, he also earned the right to play with Zetterberg and Filppula by being consistent offensively.

Hudler also was a power-play regular, and he scored only two goals all season with the man-advantage. He’s generously listed on most hockey websites as 5-feet-10 (5-7 is more like it), and his lack of size works against him when he has to battle bigger players for the puck.

There’s no question Hudler is going to be attractive to other teams. The Wings would like to keep him, but they aren’t going to overpay for him. They know they need to make changes this summer, that they need to become grittier and speedier. They want to add fresh blood to the top six, someone hard-nosed to play with a group already populated by Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Filppula and Johan Franzen. There’s also the matter of Gustav Nyquist, a very skilled European who impressed when he made his NHL debut this season and is expected to be a part of next season’s roster.

The Wings brought Hudler along after selecting him with the 58th overall pick in the 2002 NHL entry draft and welcomed him back after his season abroad. He has given them several good years, but I’d be surprised if the relationship continues.

For the record, I know that Hudler loves playing in Detroit, but financially speaking, and especially, “Getting the most bang out of your forwards’ bucks” speaking, I don’t see him coming back, not for a second.

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Comments

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in terms of getting the most bang for your buck, isn’t Hudler one of the best values in UFA forwards?  I might be wrong, but i thought only Parise and Semin had more points (and not many more) and at more then double the cap hit.

Posted by jwad on 05/23/12 at 04:29 PM ET

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He’s coming off a productive season and has every reason to expect a raise.

He scored 57 points in 08-09 which earned him his current raise and he has yet to replicate that total in either year of this contract, so why should he get a raise?

Posted by Garth on 05/23/12 at 04:46 PM ET

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He is worthless. Just taking roster spots from someone who can actually produce in the playoffs. Obviously my opinion, but he just looked awful. Not to mention he is just an a$$. Never forget when he wore a tuxedo to a game or got thrown out of a local bar for being a a dipshat. Your a multi millionaire, grow up. Rather have Conner playing anyway.

Posted by callmedrw from detroit on 05/23/12 at 04:48 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

He scored 57 points in 08-09 which earned him his current raise and he has yet to replicate that total in either year of this contract, so why should he get a raise?

Posted by Garth on 05/23/12 at 03:46 PM ET

Not disagreeing with you, but the easy answer is that the cap is 13% higher now than it was in 08-09

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 05/23/12 at 04:49 PM ET

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He’s not big, he’s not heavy, he’s not fast, he doesn’t score 40+ goals a season, and he’s not great defensively (though he was better this season than he’s credited for). That significantly limits the number of teams who would even be interested if he were practically free. So I don’t know he can make that much more elsewhere.

Posted by bleep bloop on 05/23/12 at 04:51 PM ET

tkfergy's avatar

Hulder left Det to get more money in Russia, realized how crappy it was over there and came back, He’s gone because Holland isn’t going to fork over the amount that Hudler thinks he deserves. I foresee a trading of his rights either during the draft or right before free agency (i.e.Wisniewski,  Ehrhoff, or Bryzgalov).

Posted by tkfergy on 05/23/12 at 04:51 PM ET

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Not disagreeing with you, but the easy answer is that the cap is 13% higher now than it was in 08-09

That’s a good point, and I’m sure there will be teams willing to overpay for him.

I foresee a trading of his rights either during the draft or right before free agency

I don’t think there’s going to be that much demand for his rights.  Someone can easily just throw him more money than he’s worth on July 1st, and he knows that.

Posted by Garth on 05/23/12 at 04:56 PM ET

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why should he get a raise?

Not getting or deserving a raise is not the same as not getting a contract.  And his 25 goals is among the best in the UFA forward crop.

They should try to sign him for the same cap hit. He will get much more if he hits the market. That still leaves them plenty of cap room to sign other free agents, and makes him easy to move if they need to.

Posted by jwad on 05/23/12 at 04:58 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Signing Jiri Hudler only marginally solves the problem of the Red Wings needing two more top-six forwards on their roster over what they currently have signed for next season.

The benefit of him being cheap is nice, the drawback is that it’s entirely possible that a guy like Nyquist or Tatar could have a rookie season using Hudler’s 2011-12 minutes where his numbers are similar for a MUCH lower cap hit, allowing them to grab other pieces.

Yes, it’s a bit of a risk to throw out more of a known quantity at the NHL level, but the Wings are at a point where roster turnover needs to happen and Hudler is kind of an obvious choice.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 05/23/12 at 05:10 PM ET

gowings's avatar

Let’s keep his money. I rather see one of our own kids on a line with Z and Pav. Yes, he did play relatively well this season, but again…he played in the top two lines.

Besides, we already know he is a “money” man. Not that there is nothing wrong with that, but let’s just says that his loyalty remains with money…a lot of $$$$$

Posted by gowings from MTL on 05/23/12 at 05:14 PM ET

TheFreak's avatar

Hudler’s good for shoot outs and regular season. Let him go play in Columbus or Winnepeg.

Posted by TheFreak on 05/23/12 at 05:32 PM ET

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Signing Jiri Hudler only marginally solves the problem of the Red Wings needing two more top-six forwards on their roster over what they currently have signed for next season.

I’m not suggesting it solves anything.  Mostly suggesting that there are not alot of top 6 forwards available via Free Agency, and of those available not many who are legitimately an upgrade over Hudler. 

Obviously Parise would be an upgrade.  But who else would be if that doesn’t happen, and at a reasonable cap hit?  I would rather have hudler at 3 mil then Semin at 6 mil.

With the cap going up, they might be able to sign both Hudler and another top 6 forward.  And there is no reason why Nyquist or Tatar couldn’t take Hudler’s minutes, or Hudler couldn’t be traded later on.  There are not alot of 25,25,50 and +10 players around for 3 million.

Posted by jwad on 05/23/12 at 05:39 PM ET

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I might be wrong, but i thought only Parise and Semin had more points

So did Olli Jokinen & Ray Whitney, and I wouldn’t discount the fact that Hudler played with Zetterberg and Filppula (who finally had his breakout year).  I don’t dislike Hudler but I also think there are other guys who can do what he did this year if they were put beside Z and Filppula.

Posted by Garth on 05/23/12 at 05:44 PM ET

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Hudler’s good for shoot outs and regular season

I respectfully, and wholeheartedly, disagree on both points.

He peaked last season with his 25 goals and once again disappeared in the playoffs. He just doesn’t have the physical makeup to be at all effective in the post season. Someone will probably offer him upwards of $4 million per which he is absolutely not worth as it relates to the Wings’ current roster needs. See ya, little fella.

Posted by godblender on 05/23/12 at 05:44 PM ET

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People kill Franzen’s contract all the time, and he’s killed Hudler’s production over the past few seasons.

25 and 25 playing the whole year with Fil and Z isn’t that impressive when you include what Hudler doesn’t bring on the other 2/3rds of the ice.

Hell, Drew Miller had 14 and 11 playing with nobody, playing less, and not seeing the PP for the whole year.  18-20 goals and 18-20 assists given Hudler’s amount and type of IT is absolutely the minimum I’d expect from a legit NHL forward of any kind.

Add in that Hudler has 48 goals and 59 assists in his two contract years (163 games), but 38 goals and 66 assists in his three non-contract years (230 games)... and that’s not exactly what I would call encouraging with regards to a long term deal.

Under the current cap number he was a 2-2.5 mil player this past year and significantly overpaid the one before.  The team that signs him for anything over 2.5 long term is going to get screwed.  I hope it’s not Detroit.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 05/23/12 at 05:55 PM ET

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Hudler is a joke he can not play he is probably the slowest nhl player in the nhl and if i see 1 more ternover with a breakaway when we have a man advantage because of him i will cut my wrists . O he scored 25 goals he is playing with z and flip ty conklin could score 25 goals with z and flip with a goalie stick not skating standing in 1 spot like hudler does. He is so bad no one defends him thats how he gets 25 goals.

Posted by smallfry from valparaiso in on 05/23/12 at 06:05 PM ET

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once again disappeared in the playoffs

Really?  he was tied with Z for the lead in Playoff Goals.  he had almost a quarter of the wings production in the playoffs.  The whole team disappeared in the playoffs.

I’m all about upgrading in any position, and would gladly replace hudler if it meant an upgrade.  But I’d rather sign him now at his current cap hit, and then see what happens on July 1, then lose him and risk not getting any top 6 forward July 1. 

But i think people are being a little harsh on Jiri here.  I’m not saying this guy is at the top of the NHL and that he’s getting my all-star vote, just that he’s worth keeping around at his current cap hit, compared to other UFA forwards this year. 

Unless its to make room for Parise, he’s still a good value.  He was 2nd on the team in goals , and has one of the best shooting percentages in the league.  Sure, he scores more playing with Z and Fil, but he’s not just tapping them all into an empty net.

Posted by jwad on 05/23/12 at 06:37 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

But i think people are being a little harsh on Jiri here.

Posted by jwad on 05/23/12 at 05:37 PM ET

Very few lukewarm opinions on Jiri Hudler and saying anything nice about him to some people paints you as his biggest fan.

Ignore the people who say he’s garbage; they’re wrong.

I get what you’re saying about signing Hudler to potentially hedge our bets against the uncertainty of free agency. It’s perhaps not a bad strategy. I’m not sure it’s necessary or that it would be helpful in trying to land guys on the market, since I’m pretty sure he was available for trade through all of last season and the Wings found no takers, but I can see where you’re coming from at least.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 05/23/12 at 06:42 PM ET

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he’s worth keeping around at his current cap hit

He may be, but do you think he’s going to be gotten for his current cap hit?  While I don’t think he deserves a raise, he probably will get one.

He is definitely not irreplaceable, as far as I’m concerned.

Posted by Garth on 05/23/12 at 06:59 PM ET

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I swear I musta been watching a different team with the name Hudler on the back of his jersey. I thought Hudler had a damn good playoff. He got into the dirty areas, and even went to the front of the net. I think Hudler is a pretty damn good value at the cap hit he has. Does he deserve a raise? I don’t know. If he does I think it will be marginal whether he leaves or stays. And everything said by most posters about Hudler, could easily apply to Fil. Fil hasn’t done nothing until he was put on Z’s line too. If anything, I think they should trade Fil now, while his value is up, regardless if they bring back Hudler or not. I’m not a huge fan of Hudlers, but I think he brings a lot of value at the current cap hit. And would be worth a little more to keep him around.

My NHL 12 trade right now would be to sign Hudler, and ship him and Fil, plus a draft pick to Columbus for Nash. Nash needs a change of scenerey and I htink he’d fit in real well on this team, playing for Babcock.

Posted by T on 05/23/12 at 07:19 PM ET

CaptainDennisPolonich's avatar

He scored 57 points in 08-09 which earned him his current raise and he has yet to replicate that total in either year of this contract, so why should he get a raise?
Posted by Garth on 05/23/12 at 03:46 PM ET

His goals increased and his plus minus improved. His assists went down, but then that was to be expected because the coaches wanted him to shoot more, pass less and play defense. All of his 2011-2012 stats indicate he did exactly what the coaches asked of him. Plus, as someone mentioned, he’s great at the shootout. Love it or hate it, the shootout is here to stay and the Wings tied for third in shootout wins with 9.

Give him a fair offer that gives him a decent raise and hope he is smart enough to take. If he doesn’t take it say thanks for your service and move on. Hopefully, he won’t get a better offer when the UFA signing period opens up and he will come back. If I’m Kenny, I’m selling him on the fact that he has great centers feeding him the puck and I would point out what happened to Marty LaPointe when he left Detroit.

The Wings ranked 7th in goals per game. Who are you going to get to replace Hudler’s 25 goals? I don’t think Parise is the answer. Parise only scored 6 more goals than Hudler, but he was a -5 on a defense-first Devils team compared to Hulder’s +10. Parise is a barely a replacement let alone an upgrade over Hudler. Parise will also likely be a pricier option because the xenophobic, Don-Cherry-like nature of so many GMs will drive up the price.

Posted by CaptainDennisPolonich from The Land of Fake Boobs and Real Nuts on 05/23/12 at 07:22 PM ET

calquake's avatar

I’m no pharmacist but I think if you put Hudler on a line with some size to protect him he will produce for you.  Someone out in GM land will figure this out and offer him more than Detroit will.  I neither like nor dislike Hudler.  He is what he is… a useful player who will produce in the right situations.  Offer him a small raise over his current salary.  He can stay or go.  He has earned that right as a UFA.

Posted by calquake on 05/23/12 at 07:23 PM ET

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Plus, as someone mentioned, he’s great at the shootout.

Is he?  The Wings had 6 players take shootout changes and he was 25%, which puts him at 5th in converting on chances.

His goals increased and his plus minus improved.

Both of which, you can’t deny, were helped by playing on the line he played on and with the players who were on his line.  Anyone’s plus/minus is going to improve playing with two excellent defensive forwards.

All of his 2011-2012 stats indicate he did exactly what the coaches asked of him

Fine, then he deserves exactly what he made this year.  His goals went up because he benefited from playing with Zetterberg and Filppula (a guy who will choose to pass 99.999% of the time)

Parise is a barely a replacement let alone an upgrade over Hudler.

Hudler is not even in the same league as Parise.  If you’re honestly even going to pretend that Parise’s complete game isn’t a massive upgrade over Hudler then there’s not even any point in continuing the discussion.

I guarantee you there is not a single GM in the league that would consider taking Hudler over Parise if given the choice.

Posted by Garth on 05/23/12 at 07:49 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

Thanks for addressing the hudler parise comparison Garth i was about to the second i read it

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 05/23/12 at 09:33 PM ET

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After the Jersey win tonight, does anyone really think Parise will leave New Jersey?  If one does think Parise will indeed leave, will he do it for <9-10MM? Given the 2 aforementioned conditions, will Detroit pay that money-I doubt it; I hope not.  Mike is big on professionalism, so he needs to exercise some of his own coaching and find a way to assimilate Semin-it doesn’t have to be seamless to be successful.  If Scotty could make it work with Fedorov, then can we not expect the same result with Babs and Alexandr.  I mean we all can talk about, cap space, money, egos, and systems, but lets not forget the VERY FIRST RULE in the Detroit Red Wing Way: Winning.
Cheers.

Posted by beelza on 05/24/12 at 12:10 AM ET

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I think with every Jersey win it does become less likely that Parise moves (although no matter how much the Devils win, it won’t necessarily solve the ownership situation, so there’s still that), but I would fully expect him to, wherever he plays next year, have a contract similar to that of Brad Richards, in which he’d be making huge money now, but the term be long enough that his cap hit is manageable.

Richards made $12M this year and will make the same next year but his cap hit isn’t even in the top 25 players in the league.

So yeah, if Parise were to ask for a three year deal worth $10M a year, he won’t get that from Detroit (or probably anywhere else, frankly), but if it was a long deal structured well, they could make it work.

Posted by Garth on 05/24/12 at 12:45 AM ET

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You can’t be seriously comparing Hudler and Parise, can you?

May I suggest a betting game. How quickly will Happy get to a press-box for good if he signs outside of Detroit?

My bet is in three months.

Posted by Alex on 05/24/12 at 01:48 AM ET

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You can’t be seriously comparing Hudler and Parise, can you?

I don’t think any one is comparing Hudler to Parise.  except for maybe a few comments comparing Hudlers relative value in a $/point way to other UFA forwards.  it isnt suggesting that Hudler is better or even in the same ball park, just that you’d be hard pressed to replace his production at a similar cap hit, particularly for a player under 30.

It sounds like a lot of the dump Hudler comments asusme Parise is a done deal or something.  however, Parise(or any other top 6 forward) to Detroit is far from a sure thing.  Its also not neccesarily true that the wings must choose between Hudler and another free agent forward, or that signing Hudler garuantees him ice time or top line minutes the whole season.

Posted by jwad on 05/24/12 at 02:59 AM ET

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I don’t think any one is comparing Hudler to Parise.

Yes.  CaptainDennisPolonich absolutely was comparing Hudler to Parise.  I actually directly quoted the part where CaptainDennisPolonich said Parise is “barely a replacement let alone an upgrade over Hudler”.  It’s right there in his post and then quoted in italics in my post.

it isnt suggesting that Hudler is better or even in the same ball park, just that you’d be hard pressed to replace his production at a similar cap hit, particularly for a player under 30.

No.  “Parise is barely a replacement let alone an upgrade” doesn’t mean that it’s hard to replace Hudler’s production for the same cap hit, it means that Parise isn’t better than Hudler and that is absolutely ridiculous if you’ve ever watched them play.  Parise may have “only” had 15 more points than but he also logs more time in every situation, playing on the PK, playing on the PP.  He’s faster and a better skater, he’s a better goal scorer, he’s a clutch player and he never takes a shift off.  He’s like Darren Helm if Helm consistently scored 30+ goals a year.

There’s a reason that Parise is the top UFA forward going into the summer.

Posted by Garth on 05/24/12 at 08:35 AM ET

Chris from NOHS's avatar

I sorta agree with Garth again here..scary I know.

Hudler is a great great guy at right around 3 mil. tops.  I like what he brought this year.

But Parise and Hudler aren’t even in the same comparison.  Parise is a all-around star.  Hudler is a complementary player.  If he wants to stay that (price-wise), I think we keep him.  If he wants star money, we move him.  Simple.

Posted by Chris from NOHS from Columbus, OH/Grand Rapids, MI on 05/24/12 at 11:42 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.