NHL Trade Rumors 2011: Where Will Detroit Red Wings' Jiri Hudler End Up?
Detroit Red Wings forward Jiri Hudler finds himself in an interesting spot entering the month of August: wondering how much time he will spend with the Detroit Red Wings this season.
After deciding to spend 2009-10 with the Dynamo Moscow, Hudler excelled, putting up 54 points in 54 games.
Hudler came back to the Red Wings for the 2010-11 season, but his fourth season with Detroit did not go as planned as Hudler put up his lowest point total (37) since 2006-07 and his lowest goal total (10) of his four year NHL career.
Many wonder if Hudler's time in Detroit is done, but even he dons the Winged Wheel sweater next season, Hudler (currently making $2.875 million) will have to put in a monumental effort to be resigned by Detroit.
Nevertheless, because this is the off-season, Hudler can still be moved.
Because Hudler can be moved, and because Detroit shopped him so much during the draft, this slideshow will discuss the options that Wings' GM Ken Holland might consider in moving him before the start of the season.
1. Colorado Avalanche
The big reason that Detroit fans were so happy to have Jiri Hudler back in a Red Wings uniform this season was that he put up 57 points (23 goals, 34 assists) during the 2008-09 season.
57 points from a majority second or third line player is something to get excited about for any team.
But having said that, Hudler's production tailed off last year leaving him seemingly out on an island.
The Colorado Avalanche would be an ideal team to take Jiri Hudler for the following reasons:
First, the Avs are (per CapGeek.com) ~$2.842 million below the cap floor, making it imperative that they reach the cap floor before the season starts.
Hudler's contract has just one year left on it (medium risk, high reward potential), and it would bring the Avs over the cap floor.
Hudler did not really receive any time as a top-six forward last year with Mike Babcock's Red Wings.
The Wings usually rolled out any combination of Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Holmstrom, Bertuzzi, Cleary, and Franzen (when healthy) as their top six forwards.
Hudler did not fit in the equation because of the play (or playing style) of the top six forwards.
Hudler's 57-point success in the 2008-09 season was largely due to the 28 points (6 goals, 22 assists) that he had on the power play.
Hudler's powerplay ability could bring Colorado's 11th ranked powerplay at 18.5% even higher to possibly a top five powerplay.
Although Colorado's biggest need is defense, (after allowing 3.50 goals against per game last season) Hudler can be the beginning of a turn around for the Avs.
2. Nashville Predators
The Nashville Predators have a host of RFAs coming up for restricted free agency in the 2012 off-season.
Having said that, the Predators are (per CapGeek.com) ~$7.1 million below the cap floor.
Shea Weber's pending contract will most assuredly cover that margin, but the Predators need is not for defense, it is to bolster their anemic offense, and brutal power play.
Nashville's offense ranked 21st in the League last season at 2.60 goals per game, and their power play was nothing short of dreadful coming in at 26th overall.
Hudler's previously mentioned power play skills along with his opportunity to play as a top six forward could give him the boost he needs to return to 60 point form.
However, the Red Wings might not be so keen to part with him to a divisional rival without some extra compensation so don't expect this trade to work out very easily if at all.
3. Buffalo Sabres
The Buffalo Sabres have been one of the most active teams on the free agent market this season.
After Christian Ehrhoff's cap-circumventing contract, the Sabres looked to be completely re-vamped.
But some signings have brought Buffalo over the salary cap by (per CapGeek.com) ~$3.6 million.
Now $3.6 million isn't going to magically going to come off the books for the Sabres.
Which is why it's time for the biggest blockbuster trade of the year so far.
Thomas Vanek (~$7.1 million per year), Brad Boyes ($4 million per year), 2nd round pick 2012
Jiri Hudler ($2.875 million), Valterri Filppula ($3 million per year), Cory Emmerton ($533,333 per year)
This trade works out pretty well for both sides.
Buffalo gets cap relief, as well as Hudler who is gifted on the powerplay, Filppula who is a gifted set up man, and Emmerton who is signed for the next three years and has decent potential as a second or third line forward.
Detroit gets a scorer in Vanek, and Boyes who has shown hints of what he can do offensively.
Although Buffalo loses their top scorer, they need the cap relief.
If they want to keep their newly formed blue line corps and not forfeit someone to the minors or waivers, they must quickly trade to move themselves beneath the cap.
4. Grand Rapids Griffins
The Red Wings do not want to pursue the option of sending Hudler (and his $2.875 million salary) to the minors.
Hudler is much more useful as a top six forward, but until he excels in that role, Mike Babcock cannot insert him into the lineup unless he produces more than he did last year.
Hudler also seemed to lack enthusiasm when on the ice last year, and it resulted in multiple benchings from Babcock.
Hudler was at times frustrated last year because of Babcock's decision to let Hudler ride the pine, but the coach is ultimately the boss, and has the final say.
Every Red Wing fan wants Hudler to go back to his former self and start lighting the lamp on a more regular basis, but whether he will have the opportunity to do so is completely up to Hudler's work ethic.
5. Detroit Red Wings (obviously)
No, not really surprising actually.
Hudler should be on the Red Wings.
Everyone has seen what he can do when active and involved.
Hudler can score when given the time and space, he is a tremendous asset on the power play and he belongs at the NHL level on the Detroit Red Wings.
He can be talked about as someone that might be traded away, but Hudler -- if he chooses to exert the effort -- will be once again a 50-60 point player this season if he stays healthy.