Detroit Red Wings: Jiri Hudler and 5 Players You May Not See in 2012-2013
During the NHL offseason, players from every team come and go, and teams get better and worse.
Over the last 15 years, the Detroit Red Wings have been remarkably good at keeping their team mostly in tact, and plugging in the holes left by players who leave.
The signing of Ian White over the offseason to replace retiring Brian Rafalski would be a perfect example of plugging one of those holes.
However, with a surge of prospects coming through the Grand Rapids and European pipelines, as well as the fact that there are quite a few Red Wings nearing retirement, the Red Wings are headed for some change.
In light of that change, here are five players who questionably won't be seen in the Winged Wheel in the 2012-2013 NHL season.
5. Mike Commodore
Starting the list of with a bang! Err...Kinda.
Commodore has only played four games for the Red Wings this season as their seventh defenseman. During those four games, he has registered 0 points.
It's not a great performance, but Commodore wasn't exactly signed to rack up the points. He's doing his job, but that job is an expendable one, and with Brendan Smith likely being a full-time player next season, Commodore probably won't be back.
And even if Detroit wants him back, it's likely he searches elsewhere for some playing time.
4. Ty Conklin
Conklin only has a one-year contract signed with Detroit, and he's not doing himself any favors if he's hoping to be resigned by Ken Holland after the season is over.
Ty Conklin has posted an awful 3.23 GAA and an abysmal .889 SV%.
If you're Marty Brodeur, the past career you've had makes those numbers acceptable, but when you're an expendable backup goaltender and you compare those to Jimmy Howard's 1.99 GAA and .925 SV%, the likelihood of a return for the next season isn't looking good.
3. Brad Stuart
Stuart's likely departure may come as a surprise to some, but it's likely coming nonetheless. If he makes it through the trade deadline, the chances of him still being a Red Wing after July 1st, 2012, are unlikely.
It's not that Stuart isn't happy with the Wings, or that the Wings aren't happy with him. Both sides like each other.
Stuart was traded to Detroit in the '07-'08 season, but his family has stayed in California, and Brad has expressed a desire to return to California, preferably by signing with either Anaheim, LA, or San Jose.
His physical presence and shot-blocking will be missed if he decides to go, but if Ken Holland is smart, and that's obvious, he may be shopping Stuart around at the trade deadline.
2. Jiri Hudler
Since late November, Hudler has been on fire for the Red Wings. However, if he wanted to stay in Detroit, it may have been in his best interests to stay in the slump he has been in for the last year.
After a standoff over money in the 2009 offseason, Hudler went to arbitration, got himself a nice $5.5 million contract and still left the Wings to go to the KHL for a year.
Certainly, that left a bad taste in the mouths of the Red Wings administration, but Hudler came back, and after a strong 2008-2009 season, he was expected to pick up where he left off.
He didn't, and until the last 30 days or so, he didn't look like the player he used to be.
During the 2011 NHL entry draft, Ken Holland shopped Hudler's name around to any GM who was willing to listen, and not one of them wanted to touch Hudler.
Now, with Jiri Hudler's point totals racking up, you have to wonder if Ken Holland is not as happy about the stats sheet as he's about Hudler's trade value.
Not that we're counting, but Jiri Hudler and Brad Stuart tossed in with a few other things could make a nice trade package...
1. Nicklas Lidstrom
Nicklas Lidstrom is not only the greatest player of this generation, but also one of the greatest of all time.
His possible departure from the Red Wings won't come through trade or free agency, Lidstrom is a lifer for the Red Wings, but the reality is that his career will come to a close at some point soon.
While most people suspect that this may be his last season, it's still possible that he could return for 2012-2013. Lidstrom has said before that he'd love to do what Chris Chelios did and play into his mid-40s.
The Red Wings wouldn't mind that either, when Lidstrom is still playing as one of the best defenders in the league despite his age.
However, what it will end up coming down to is not if Lidstrom still has the skill to play, because we all know he does, but if he can handle the conditioning it takes to come back every year.
And that will be a decision that Red Wings fans will be nervous over for another June month.
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