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During the 2006-07 season Hudler showed great promise. In the offseason he made an effort to train harder in order to be stronger. At only 5'9" and 178lbs, he was easily knocked around the ice in his first season.
The hard work paid off as his points jumped from 25 to 42 in his second season. He then scored a career best 23 goals and 57 points in 2008-09.
With quickly developing talent and growing role with the team, the Wings were surprised when he opted to head to Russia to play following the 09 playoffs. After one season in Russia he returned to the Wings this season.
The year away from the Wings and NHL seems to have greatly stunted his growth. He scored a career low in goals this season. He had several long scoreless droughts, including one 13-game stretch. By mid February it looked like he was back as he scored three goals and 10 assists over a nine-game stretch.
He followed it up by going seven games without a point, though, and never found that hot streak again.
All of these ups and downs can be tolerated for a lower or cheaper spot on the roster, but when the player is making $2.75 million there is no time for such patience. In the world of salary cap hockey each team needs to make sure that they are getting the best return on their investment (ROI).
Hudler’s ROI is nowhere near it should be. He only ranks 164th in points and 250th in goals among forwards in the league.
Players producing his level of stats can easily be had for under a million dollars. Paying Hudler at his rate is a drain on the team resources and hinders them from making other moves.
At this point he is under contract for one more season. If he were to move it would need to be via a trade. He does still have talent and potential that other teams would be interested in. The Wings have several young players looking to move up that could fill his roster spot. Also clearing his contract would open up cash to spend in free agency.