Why Damien Brunner Was the Best Possible Signing for the Detroit Red Wings

PJ Sapienza@@pjsapiContributor IIIFebruary 3, 2013

DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 25: Damien Brunner #24 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Minnesota Wild at Joe Louis Arena on January 25, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Damien Brunner has made a smooth transition to the NHL level.  In eight games he already has four goals and two assists.  He also has a game-winning goal in a shootout, which is not counted in the regular stats.  While this is below the point per game totals that he amassed in the Swiss-A League, it was not realistic to expect that same level of production in the NHL.

Through his eight games he has proven to fit in very well.  He hustles from end to end and has a great knack for following the puck.  He is regularly getting opportunities to flash his brilliant moves.

During the offseason, GM Ken Holland was criticized for not bringing in any of the big-name players that were available.  The team showed interest in Zach Parise, Shane Doan, Rick Nash and Alex Semin. Sometimes, the best moves are those that you do not make.  While Zach Parise is a great player, is he seven times better than Brunner?

With the lowering of the salary cap, Holland has put the team in a better position for the long term.  The Minnesota Wild signed Ryan Sutter and Zach Parise to mega deals that will hold the team back for years to come.

In those two players, the team will eat up $15 million of the $64.3 million salary cap for next season.  Add in the Wild’s other two big salary players—Dany Heatley and Mikko Koivu—and they have four players eating up almost half of the salary cap. To make matters worse for them, their $6 million goalie will be a free agent after the season as well.

The New York Rangers will be in a similar situation with four players taking up over 44 percent of their cap for next season.

Now to be fair, Holland was willing to pay Parise and Suter for those contracts, as those two players decided to go to Minnesota.  Where Holland does get credit is that he did not panic and sign a bad contract with some other player.

Instead of signing Doan to a bad contract, he bowed out of the negotiations.  Doan is a good player, but at 36 he is not worth a four-year contract at $5.3 million per year.

Brunner has been the best value of the Red Wing’s off season targets.




Salary/Yrs left

Damien Brunner




Shane Doan




Rick Nash




Alex Semin




Zach Parise




Parise is having the best season of the group, but is the one goal and two assist lead that he has over Brunner worth an extra $6 million and the albatross 13-year contract?  Not likely.

Brunner will be a free agent after the season, but Holland will likely move to get him signed before the season ends.  While he will get a bump from his current salary, he will not end up with a Parise-type contract.

As the season progresses, and even into the offseason, teams will have to do salary dumps in order to get under the new cap.  The Red Wings will be in prime position to make trades and possibly sign players.

In Brunner, the Red Wings have a player that is producing at a very good pace.  What is even more promising is that the other players on the list are already established.  We know how good they are, or have been.  Brunner has not reached his ceiling yet—his best is yet to come.

All contractual figures via CapGeek.com.


PJ Sapienza is a Featured Columnist covering the Detroit Red Wings, as well as many other sports. He is also taking part in a Polar Plunge for Special Olympics and would greatly appreciate your support.

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