When Jiri Hudler left the Detroit Red Wings after the 2008-09 season, he was just coming into his own as a reliable secondary scorer. The Red Wings hope that a year in Russia didn’t set him off course, as the scrappy forward is officially returning to Motown next season.
Hudler’s agent confirmed today he would be returning to the NHL next season, a much welcomed announcement in Red Wing Nation. The Red Wings struggled with secondary scoring this season, especially when key forwards Johan Franzen and Henrik Zetterberg were lost to injury during the season for significant periods of time.
Hudler was coming off his best season when he decided to take a two-year, $10 million contract from Kontinental Hockey League club HC Moscow Dynamo. He tallied 23 goals and 34 assists for a total of 57 points that season, career high in each category. His goal production dipped a little in the KHL, but he still put up similar numbers (19 goals, 35 assists, 54 points).
Hudler’s return means one of the newer Red Wings this season won’t be returning next season. The probable candidate is Jason Williams, who has been a healthy scratch since Game 2 of the first round against the Phoenix Coyotes. Williams broke his leg and missed a huge portion of the season, and his $1.5 million contract likely means he will be the odd man out.
With Hudler under contract next season, the Wings will have five six forwards under contract next season:
Valtteri Filppula (sorry I forgot you Fil)
Justin Abdelkader. Darren Helm, Tomas Holmstrom, Kirk Maltby, Drew Miller, Todd Bertuzzi, and Patrick Eaves are all free agents next season. Bertuzzi, Matlby and Holmstrom will be unrestricted. Bertuzzi wants to stay in Detroit, and Holmstrom’s body of work this season will definitely earn him a deal. Most of the restricted free agents will probably be offered deals as well. That being said, how bout some line combos for 2010-11?