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Two things: Boughner returns to Windsor and Red Wings forward Jiri Hudler’s ‘short leash’

Of brief but important note this evening: According to the Windsor Star’s Jim Parker, former Columbus Blue Jackets assistant coach Bob Boughner, who left the team due to family reasons, will reprise his role as the Windsor Spitfires coach after the Red Wings chose not to pursue Boughner or Pete DeBoer as the replacements for Brad McCrimmon and Paul MacLean…

After returning from Columbus, Boughner briefly spoke to Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock about an assistant coaching job with the club. When the Red Wings opted to go in a different direction, Boughner began to discuss his future with the Spitfires.

And as we know from the Free Press’s Helene St. James, among others, the Wings were interested in acquiring the services of Scottie Upshall and/or Tomas Fleischmann before the Florida Panthers overpaid for their services, but opted to stick with the team’s current crop of forwards for the present moment. St. James (via an early edition of the Free Press) offers this assessment of Jiri Hudler’s future with the team given his underwhelming performance after returning from the KHL (see: 37 points in 73 games in the regular season, 3 points in 10 games during the playoffs, several healthy scratches along the way):

So what’s ahead for Hudler? Expect him to be kept on a short leash.

He didn’t lack for opportunity last season; even when he wasn’t on one of the top two lines, he was a regular on the power play, over such options as Danny Cleary and Todd Bertuzzi.

During the Phoenix series a team scout pointed out that Hudler is always a threat to score; unfortunately for the Wings, he rarely finished his chances.

The Wings retain some faith in Hudler because of his history of scoring at various levels, from world juniors to the NHL (he had 23 goals in ‘08-09). He must show from the start of camp he’s going to be that player again, and earn a spot as a top-six forward.

If not, given that he’s in the last year of his contract, the Wings will explore moving him while he has value.

There’s no doubt about that. The problem for those of you (and maybe me) who would like to see Hudler disappear sooner than later is simple: with solid free agent forwards remaining on the market, there’s no incentive whatsoever for any team (including those who are struggling to reach the cap floor) to surrender assets for an underachiever like Hudler.

Again, the 27-year-old forward’s going to earn $3 million in real-world dollars over this upcoming season, but his cap hit is $2.875 million, and he’s a free agent next summer. Even if the Wings wanted to move Valtteri Filppula instead given his higher “upside,” Filppula’s $3 million cap hit (all figures from Capgeek.com) belies the fact that he’s going to actually earn $3.5 million for the 2010-2011 season and another $3.5 million in 2011-2012, so if the Wings are planning on moving a “top-six” or top-nine forward at the trade deadline, Hudler’s the candidate to move.

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Comments

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Given some (a lot, actually) of the contracts handed out during this off-seasons FA period, I find it extremely hard to believe that the Wings’ wouldn’t be able to find someone willing to take on Hudler’s remaining salary…should they choose to…and man do I hope they choose to. But I agree completely with St. James that the time to do it would be sooner rather than later. A team could look at what he did a few years back, and be willing to take a gamble. Particularly if they need to fill cap space. If the Wings wait until mid-season and Hudler is still screwing the proverbial pooch, then they may get stuck with him.

What concerns me a little bit is the prospect of Hudler continuing his ineffective play, and Bertuzzi and/or Cleary suffering lingering effects from their concussions. I know everything is supposedly a “go” with those two, but with concussions anything can and often does go wrong. One forearm shot to either of their heads and we’ve got 2 or 3 of our top 6 who can’t contribute. Bottom line: TRADE HUDLER! Hugs and kisses.

Posted by godblender on 08/03/11 at 12:32 AM ET

bezukov's avatar

Wouldn’t Philly take him in exchange for a few packs of base ball cards and some Happy Meals?  I’m sure they’d love another 50 point windfall from Detroit ala Ville Leino.  I’d rather put a boulder on skates and push it on to the ice, at least a rock grows moss.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/03/11 at 01:06 AM ET

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Posted by godblender on 08/02/11 at 11:32 PM ET

The floor-dwellers have pretty much all hit their target. Phoenix is just a few hundred thousand below, and Nashville will have no trouble getting there once Weber is signed. The only remaining “floor dwellers” who might conceivably have an interest in Hudler for cap compliance reasons are Colorado and the Islanders—and they aren’t going to want the Red Wings to take much salary back. Or give up good futures for a one-year rental for an overpaid question mark.

The other problem with moving Hudler or (especially) Val to a bottom-feeder—and this was George’s point—is that both players have higher salaries than their cap hits. For the teams that are losing money, that is an absolute no-no, because it means they have to spend more real-world cash in order to reach the cap-hit-determined floor.

The Isles, for example, have a number of players with backloaded deals, meaning that although their “cap” payroll is close to $46 million, they’re actually spending several million less in real world dollars. Presumably, once those players start earning more than their cap hits, Wang and Snow will ship them out to fat cat contenders who will gladly pay the higher salaries for more reasonable cap hits, and the cycle will repeat itself.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 08/03/11 at 02:51 AM ET

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If Babcock would have kept Hudler on a line with Pavel and Cleary we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.

The fact is Homer and Bertuzzi are not top 6 forwards anymore, no matter what most of you think.  So he must roll with Hudler early and often (no healthy scratches).

Cleary-Pav-Hudler
Hank-Fil-Franzen
Bert-Abby-Eaves
Homer-Helm-Mursak
Miller
Emmerton

You have two players with decent speed, defense and forecheck ability on each line.
Fil and Franzen work well together and Fil is better at center than on the wing, while Hank becomes more of a scorer than a defensive center and setup man by playing wing.
For the 2nd PP, Hank goes to center and Homer goes to the wing, keeping injury-prone Franzen away from the front of the net and you still have two shooters on each PP line.
Hopefully this year Babs doesn’t go away from combos that work.  Even Bert played well when paired with Abby, but I guess he saw no need to put them together when it mattered.

Posted by jkm2011 on 08/03/11 at 09:48 AM ET

Heaton's avatar

The problem with saying just keep him with Datsyuk is that if that’s the only way Hudler can produce now… what’s the point? 

He makes close to 3m a year and has failed with virtually every other top 6 role.  His worth was tied to him producing in places that other players weren’t.  But now if we have to play him with Datsyuk to produce, we’re not getting our money’s worth.

Posted by Heaton on 08/03/11 at 10:17 AM ET

PDXWing's avatar

I posted this right before Draper officially retired, so it got buried in the news cycle (and just accidentally posted it in another entry).  Here are my thoughts on the lines. I agree that Bert is struggling to be a top six guy - and I think he will be bumped during the year. While I don’t mind Cleary as a top six guy in a pinch, he’s really best suited, in my opinion, for a 3rd line defensive role with the opportunity to punch in some goals.

Assuming that no further trades are made, what are the lines for the upcoming year?

Zetterberg/Datsyuk/Holmstrom
Franzen/Filppula/Bertuzzi
Cleary/Helm/Eaves
Miller/Abdelkader/Mursak
Emmerton
Hudler?

Lidstrom/Kronwall
Stuart/White
Ericsson/Kindl
Commodore

I assume Hudler will be part of a trade for a top six guy, which will likely leave Bert in a weird position. The 3rd line, as I have it, is pretty versatile with offensive upside. The 2nd line needs to be more consistent this year, and I’m looking at Franzen and Fil to have big years. Franzen, because he will be fully healed and Fil because it’s a contract year.  I predict that White is going to be a favorite and have an awesome year and fit right in; I can easily see Babcock going back to the Kronwall-Stuart pairing and having White on the top pair with Lidstrom. The battle for the 6th defenseman should be intense with Commodore giving E and Kindl plenty of competition.  I don’t think Kindl’s development will be stunted by Commodore, but the Big Rig needs to play well to justify his raise (I like him, so I assume he’s going to have a great year, but, with his style, he will likely be the first pulled if he struggles).  Not sure about the 4th line and how that will shake out. I think Abdelkader is too good for that role, but he hasn’t forced Babcock to play him more up to this point. It remains to be seen if he has more offensive potential, but he is a solid young defensive player.

Thoughts?

Posted by PDXWing on 08/03/11 at 11:10 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Posted by PDXWing from Alexandria, VA on 08/03/11 at 10:10 AM ET

Pretty much agree, but have to point out that Flip’s not in a contract year. His deal expires in 2013.

Doesn’t change the fact that I think he’ll do better this year than he did last.  I expect him to return to the form he was showing in 2009-10 when he “failed to put up 40 points” only because he played only 55 games.  That season’s 82-game pace was 52 points.  I think he can approach that number.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/03/11 at 11:22 AM ET

PDXWing's avatar

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/03/11 at 10:22 AM ET

Thanks for the clarification. At this point, my concern for the offense is the 2nd line - it is lacking consistency and intimidation. With the amount of cap space KH has to play around with, I assume a new forward will be brought in to play on the 2nd line and Bert will be bumped. I’m not sure who in the league would be a good fit there - but I was bummed to hear that Upshall went to the Panthers instead of the Wings.

Posted by PDXWing on 08/03/11 at 11:51 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

ROFL at an occasional post in here, especially when meant to be serious.

Posted by RWBill from Brush Street cruising with Super Creepy Rob Lowe. on 08/03/11 at 12:22 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

Who wouldn’t do good on a line with pay? Hurlers other big issue last year was defense.. I don’t know how, many times I saw Huds on the ice for a goal and he’s by himself halfway across the rink watching the shooter.. guy is a HUGE defensive liability and his most punishing check last year was on Clears in a game 7… you could put eaves in there and get the same production.. we need an upgrade from huds

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 08/03/11 at 12:53 PM ET

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why risk hudler on a line w pav? so his only hit all year can give him a concussion too? or so he can make pavels plus minus go down? or so he can sit on the open side of the net and miss every open goal oppurtunity he gets? or so he can give suicide passes to our number one guy? or maybe its so he can forcheck with his arms flayling everywhere to accomplish nothing. There is alot of upgrades on hudler even on teams fourth lines. this guy doesnt belong in the nhl. any idiot with the amount of time hudler got on PP could get 40 points with the supporting cast. Im sick of this rat

Posted by diesel44 on 08/03/11 at 01:34 PM ET

scotts0's avatar

Saying that Hudler only produces when he’s with Pav, although true, is a bit misleading, because ANYONE will produce when on a line with Pav.  So you can throw that out the window. 

But I will also say that more times than not I was very pissed/confused at whatever the hell Babcock was doing with the lines.  His constant need to change lines during periods is assinine and does absolutely no good.  How can players work well together when every 5 minutes their linemates are changing?  I also feel that putting Pav and Z together with Holmstrom is a complete waste of talent in 2 ways.  One, putting your 2 best forwards on the same line automatically lessens the strength of your other lines.  Separate them so your top 2 lines would be more of a 1a and 1b, instead of 1 and 2.  Second, putting Holmstrom with Z and Dats is a waste because Holmstrom can’t skate, can’t pass, can’t receive passes, can’t skate with the puck, you get my drift.  The only thing he does GREAT is obviously what he’s known for.  Holmstrom’s complete lack of offensive talent is a weight that slows down Pav and Z.  Holmstrom should be on the 3rd or 4th line and on the 1st power play unit, just so long as no one passes him the puck in the neutral zone on the breakout, because that is a sure turnover. 

That went on way too long, but I think it made sense.

Posted by scotts0 from New York on 08/03/11 at 03:04 PM ET

babymachine's avatar

Hudler isn’t going anywhere. At this juncture, his potential (in a contract year no less) far outweighs what we would net in a trade.

Posted by babymachine from Portland, Oregon by way of Macomb, Michigan on 08/03/11 at 05:51 PM ET

Osrt's avatar

Hudler could go elsewhere and be productive because he wouldn’t have the defensive responsibilities he does now. His staking improved a ton over the past few years but his cruising speed isn’t good enough to get him into good scoring positions *and* get back to his defensive post. Hudler’s offensive instincts are top-notch but the skill package is just a brick shy. Still, he has huge upside, especially for teams in the East.

Holmstrom’s complete lack of offensive talent is a weight that slows down Pav and Z.  Holmstrom should be on the 3rd or 4th line and on the 1st power play unit, just so long as no one passes him the puck in the neutral zone on the breakout, because that is a sure turnover.


Posted by scotts0

Can’t agree at all. If Homer played on the 3rd or 4th line, then he’d be useless. Playing with both or either of Pav and Z makes him and them much better. 1) He can’t skate the puck. That’s why he looks to pass as soon as he gets the puck; Scotty beat that into him. In the defensive zone, if the outlet pass isn’t there, he eats it or chips it up the boards and bum-rushes the defender trying to keep the puck in. 2) He can’t stick handle. Unless Pronger is practicing fissix on him. I have never seen a player keep the puck and make plays while taking the abuse Homer does. The funny and annoying thing is that that’s the only time he can make plays. Open ice and no coverage? Turnover. 3) Chemistry. The bond he has with the Euro twins and King Lidas is magic. They’d make an epic boy band. Homer knows that he has one job when not in front of the net: Retrieve the puck and get it to the skaters. If he thought anything else, he’d be wearing 97 for a Swedish club team in honor of the year Scotty told him to go the fuch home. The man listens.

Posted by Osrt on 08/04/11 at 12:38 AM ET

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Homer was a 4th line player from 97 (when he wasn’t a scratch) until 2005.  Maybe you just started watching? 

Put him back where he was under Bowman with speedsters like Helm and Mursak, who also chip pucks along the boards and rag play down low and occassionally dump it to the front of the net where Draper would almost always fan on it or hit the goalie in the crest. 

You will have better production from your 4th line that way.  He’d play 8-10 minutes a night there and 3-5 on the PP (when he’ll be better rested, thus ensuring even better production) and he’ll probably hit the same numbers he did last year.

Posted by jkm2011 on 08/05/11 at 10:48 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.