Catching up with Jiri Hudler, other NHL exports

hudler.jpgGeorge Malik discussed the Detroit Red Wings’ hopes of bringing former winger Jiri Hudler back to the NHL next season. As you may remember, the cash-strapped team was unable to dissuade Hudler from chasing better ice time and bigger money in the KHL last summer.

The Red Wings seem optimistic about the possibility of an “out” clause, but my gut reaction is to “follow the money” – something I sense Detroit will once again lack this summer. Essentially I agree with Malik regarding their chances of luring Hudler back.

My take is this: whether Hudler returns to the Red Wings next season depends on which people Hudler prefers to listen to–Golovkov and Svoboda gave him a helluva line about “breaking free” from the Wings’ third line to establish himself as a top-six player and star, which he did become, all while earning oodles of near tax-free dollars and all the amenities of KHL hockey in an apartment, use of a luxury automobile, a cell phone, utilities, and sometimes even groceries all paid at the expense of the club–and whether the KHL feels like getting into a fight with the NHL about Hudler’s rights again.

If Hudler feels that he’s had a nice time in Russia, can put a chunk of change away for his post-hockey nest egg, and is ready to listen to Ken Holland and Mike Babcock tell him the truth–that his best opportunity to establish himself as an NHL’er is to come back at 26 years of age and make himself invaluable to a team in transition, not wait another year to make a few more million dollars in Russia and find himself without a job–then he’ll come back. If the lure of the KHL’s petro-dollars and whispers in his ears about becoming the player he never could be in Detroit hold sway, and especially if the KHL decides to make a stink about Hudler fulfilling his contract, then he’s going to play in Russia until 2011.

Honestly, I lack even a hint of expertise on KHL/NHL transfer loopholes and other factors of that ilk. My guess is Hudler will make the easiest, most lucrative decision.

The real reason I bring this topic up, though, is to take a look at some familiar names overseas. How are a few former NHLers – ones who may even return next season – doing now? I’m glad you asked, voice in my head!


(All stats compiled from Hockeydb.com. Obviously, G = goals; A  = assists; P = points; parentheses = my innermost thoughts.)

Jiri Hudler: 19 G, 35 A, 54 P in 54 games with Moscow Dynamo

Nikita Filatov: 9 G, 13 A, 22 P in 26 games with CSKA Moscow

Jaromir Jagr: 22 G, 20 G, 42 P in 51 games with Omsk Avangard

Alex Radulov: 24 G, 39 A, 63 P in 54 games with Ufa Salavat Yulayev

And just for kicks:

Robert Esche: 29-7-5 with a 2.07 GAA and a 91.7% save percentage with St. Petersburg SKA

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    Red Wings take advantage of Penguins’ mistakes in 5-2 win

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    Even though the odds are stacked against them at this point, if the Detroit Red Wings are going to extend their playoff streak they are going to need to pile up a lot of wins the rest of the way to dig themselves out of the hole they put themselves in.

    They took a big step toward doing that this weekend with two huge wins over the top two teams in the Eastern Conference.

    They completed the weekend on Sunday with a rather convincing 5-2 win in Pittsburgh, taking advantage of a sloppy Penguins team that struggled in all phases of the game.

    This win came just one day after the Red Wings beat the Washington Capitals in a shootout.

    The big story for Detroit on Sunday early on was the play of starting goaltender Petr Mrazek — starting both ends of the back-to-back this week — as he made a couple of highlight reel saves to rob Ian Cole and Nick Bonino of what looked like sure goals.

    In the two games this weekend he stopped 58 of the 62 shots he faced.

    It has been a disappointing season for Mrazek individually, but he has worked to salvage it over the past four games by only allowing only nine goals on 160 shots (.943 save percentage).

    As for the players in front of him, the Red Wings’ penalty killers were sensational on Sunday, frustrating the Penguins’ power play and limiting them to just three total shots on goal on their four power play attempts.

    Three of the Penguins’ power plays failed to register a single shot on goal.

    While Mrazek and the Red Wings were shutting down the Penguins’ high powered offensive attack, the Red Wings feasted on some brutal turnovers by the Penguins and an off day from Matt Murray in net to put five goals on the board. It was only the third time in the past month they scored more than three goals in a game.

    They opened the scoring in the first period on a slick Nick Jensen goal following an Evgeni Malkin turnover in the offensive zone (seen above).

    With the Red Wings holding a 2-1 lead entering the third period, a Jake Guentzel turnover resulted in Tomas Tatar‘s 14th goal of the season for the Red Wings to give them a two-goal lead.

    Just two minutes later Thomas Vanek put the game away with his 15th goal of the season.

    Sunday’s win is still just Detroit’s fourth in its past 14 games, while the Red Wings remain six points back of a playoff spot in 15th place in the Eastern Conference.

    For the Penguins, it is their first loss in regulation since the All-Star break snapping what had been a nine-game point streak that saw them go 6-0-3.

    Sens’ Hoffman leaves game vs. Jets with lower-body injury

    OTTAWA, ON - NOVEMBER 13: Mike Hoffman #68 of the Ottawa Senators skates against the Minnesota Wild at Canadian Tire Centre on November 13, 2016 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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    The Ottawa Senators will need a comeback effort today in order to take over top spot in the Atlantic Division.

    Making matters more difficult: The Senators, in action today against the Winnipeg Jets and having gone down two goals after the first period, will strive for that without forward Mike Hoffman, one of their best scorers.

    Hoffman left the game in the first period and will not return, the Senators said, because of a lower-body injury.

    With a win today, the Senators would move into a tie with the Montreal Canadiens at 70 points, but they would take over first place in the division because they have fewer games played.

    Hoffman is tied with Kyle Turris for second on the Senators in goal scoring with 19 goals.

    WATCH LIVE: Blackhawks at Sabres

    Evander Kane, Ryan O'Reilly
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    A three-game winning streak has the Buffalo Sabres right back into the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.

    They’ll go for four wins in a row when they host the Chicago Blackhawks, who sit second in the Central Division, on Sunday (6 p.m. ET). You can check out the game on NBCSN or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

    Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

    Blackhawks’ winning streak goes bye thanks to Talbot, Oilers

    ‘Hawks are happy with rookies’ progress

    Goalie Nods: Lehner looks to lead Sabres to fourth win in a row

    Sabres win third in a row to stay in playoff race

    Goalie Nods: Lehner looks to lead Sabres to fourth win in a row

    BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 15:  Robin Lehner #40 of the Buffalo Sabres defends the net against the Boston Bruins at First Niagara Center on January 15, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jen Fuller/NHLI via Getty Images)
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    With three consecutive wins — and six wins in their past nine — the Buffalo Sabres are trying to keep things interesting in the Eastern Conference playoff race, entering play on Saturday just two points out of a wild card spot.

    One of the biggest reasons for their success in recent weeks has been the fantastic play of starting goaltender Robin Lehner.

    Not only has he won four of his past five starts (including all three during the Sabres’ current winning streak), but he has probably been the driving force behind that surge with a .949 save percentage, allowing more than two goals just once during that stretch.

    In three of those games he has made at least 37 saves.

    Lehner has been a pretty big positive for the Sabres this season overall with a .926 save percentage.

    Since joining Buffalo at the start of the 2015-16 he is at .925 putting him with the best goaltenders in the league.

    They are going to need him to be great on Sunday evening again with a home game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

    The Blackhawks are starting Scott Darling.

    Elsewhere on Sunday…

    — In the afternoon games it was Phillip Grubauer vs. Henrik Lundqvist in the Rangers-Capitals game and Matt Murray vs. Petr Mrazek in the Penguins-Red Wings game in Pittsburgh.

    Mike Condon draws back in for the Ottawa Senators when they look to move into a first place tie in the Atlantic Division. Connor Hellebuyck goes for the Jets.

    Sergei Bobrovsky will be in net for the Columbus Blue Jackets when they host the Nashville Predators. No official word from Nashville yet but with Pekka Rinne taking the loss on Saturday it would make sense to see Juuse Saros get the start.

    Thomas Greiss gets the night off for the New York Islanders after he played on Saturday, which means Jean-Francois Berube goes when they take on the New Jersey Devils in the second half of their back-to-back. Keith Kinkaid gets the start for the Devils to give Cory Schneider a night off.

    — Nothing official from Toronto yet but look for the Maple Leafs to give Curtis McElhinney the start in Carolina against the Hurricanes. The Hurricanes have not announced their starter.

    Calvin Pickard is expected to start for Colorado when the Avalanche host the Tampa Bay Lightning. No word yet from the Lightning on their starter.

    — The Boston Bruins go for their fourth win in a row when they take on the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night. It will be Tuukka Rask in net for the Bruins with Martin Jones going for the Sharks.

    — The Kings and Ducks have not announced their starters yet.

    — After leading the Canucks to a win over the Calgary Flames on Saturday night Ryan Miller is going right back in the net for the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night when they take on the Philadelphia Flyers.