This next series of articles will be discussing the good (and the bad) of the Detroit Red Wings’ upcoming Free Agents. Each player’s final analysis will be an opinion on that player’s contribution to the team overall. His play will either warrant a new contract or will hit the Free Agent market on July 1st. Next up in our series is Center Jiri Hudler…
OVERVIEW: Looking to follow up on a horrific season back from playing in the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia, Jiri Hudler silenced many doubters. The motivation to earn a new contract and become the player many envisioned before he bolted overseas. Being paired with Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula for most of this season allowed for three centers and also three playmakers who were smart with the puck and created perfect passing lanes with good on ice vision. “Happy”, as he known by many teammates, is looking to build off of this past season which saw more offensive output from the 28 year old Czechoslovakian.
THE GOOD: What separates Hudler from many other Top 6 forwards on the market is finding the opportune time to deliver a goal. Being paired with two quality centermen surely elevates your play, but Jiri’s game involves him crashing the net to bury all the loose pucks sprayed off of opposing goalies pads. His 19.7 % Shooting Percentage was best on the team during the regular season. Hudler finds the net in many different ways. Creating shots makes the offense hum and losing a player like Hudler to free agency would further hinder the Red Wings offensive attack.
// THE BAD: The biggest fault against Hudler might be that he is a one dimensional player. The offensive statistics surely pleases even the casual fan. Yet to the hardcore fanatics, Hudler lacks in getting back to help his team defensively. In most cases it’s because he takes himself out of the play from too aggressive offensively. Today’s NHL is not suited to only have one dimensional players: They just don’t go far in the game as they used to. Some can use his size as a fault. Standing at 5’10” it makes Hudler’s job of retrieving the puck in the corner a little bit harder. There is also the question lingering about his commitment to the organization and their future goals of winning Stanley Cups.
THE VERDICT: Love him or hate him, Jiri Hudler serves a valuable purpose to this hockey team. His second line was what kept the Red Wings afloat once the injury bug plagued key figures on the team. He is a playmaker that has proven he can elevate his game and produce like a Top 6 forward should. He might not play a North American style of game but the Red Wings cannot afford to lose a goal scorer and overall underrated playmaker like this to Free Agency. Expect this unrestricted free agent to be back on this team for the start of the 2012-13 season.
I predict that Hudler will receive a 4 year, $8.75 million dollar contract.
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