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I was one of many excited for the return or Jiri Hudler last year. He put up 57 points the year before his departure to Russia, and was still only a youthful 26 years old. The Red Wings lacked depth in the 2009-2010 season, so I expected his return to result in great success.
I was dead wrong. He was awful. He put up only 37 points and a minus-seven rating.
This year looks much better. He has 27 points in only 40 games and is contributing at a much higher frequency. He still has a quite a bit of issues though. He can be lazy, slow and seems to get most of his points off rebounds and deflections. Nonetheless, he is putting up more points, which is very good in two ways:
1. Points from him mean goals for the Red Wings. Not complaining how he gets them.
2. The more he scores, the higher his trade value goes. He may very well be wearing another jersey at the end of the year, and the better he is doing, the more the Wings may get for him.
Another reason the Wings are better is because Valtteri Filppula is finally becoming a star. He has shown flashes of brilliance but has been inconsistent and injury-prone his entire career. Now the 27-year-old finally seems to have it figured out.
A player on pace for 70-plus points at the cost of $3 million? A bargain to me.