The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/23/12 at 04:13 PM ET
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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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.