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 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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    Lightning’s first fight this season: Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo

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    Fighting is down more or less across the board in the NHL, but the Tampa Bay Lightning might be the franchise least interested in dropping the gloves.

    Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo already has some name recognition to it, yet it gets some bonus points for being the Bolts’ first fighting major of 2015-16.

    It … probably loses those bonus points in being run-of-the-mill.

    Hey, be fair; the Lightning are clearly out of practice.

    Oilers GM doesn’t want to force a trade for the sake of a trade

    Peter Chiarelli

    It must be a helpless feeling to sit idly by while your team continues to flail, but such emotions are what opposing GMs love to prey on.

    Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli hasn’t been around through much of the suffering for this hapless franchise, yet that doesn’t mean he’s immune to the calls for improvement. To his credit, he’s not buckling under that pressure.

    You can see and hear his full comments below:

    If you don’t feel like playing the video, the message is simple enough.

    Chiarelli isn’t happy with Edmonton’s record – he hasn’t “seen progression” in ways that he was expecting, but again … he doesn’t want to force moves.

    Long story short, he can “sleep at night,” even if he’s disappointed.

    Is he right to take a relaxed approach, though? Maybe it’s time to blow up a part of what isn’t working? Have some fun armchair GM’ing on this one.

    Slump busters: Simmonds, Couturier end long scoring droughts in win over Rangers


    It’s been a good few days to be a fan of the Philadelphia Flyers, as their team delivered not once, but twice during Thanksgiving weekend.

    The Flyers picked up a 3-2 OT win over the Predators on Friday before shutting out the New York Rangers, 3-0, on Saturday.

    It was a good afternoon for three players in particular.

    Both Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier ended long scoring slumps.

    Simmonds’ two goals were his first in seven games, while Couturier scored for the first time in his last 13 contests.

    Goaltender Steve Mason also had a solid outing against the Rangers.

    The 27-year-old turned aside all 24 shots he faced including this great save on Dominic Moore:

    The Flyers lost defenseman Nick Schultz to an upper-body injury in the first period after he took a big hit from Dylan McIlrath.

    Luke Schenn defended his fallen teammate by dropping the gloves with McIlrath, which didn’t go unnoticed by his teammates.

    The Rangers are now on a season-high three-game losing streak. Their lack of effort has to be concerning for their head coach Alain Vigneault.

    The Flyers outshot the Rangers 30-14 over the final 40 minutes.

    Video: Flyers lose Schultz after big hit from McIlrath


    It looks like the injury bug has taken another chunk out of the Philadelphia Flyers.

    The Flyers, who are already without Mark Streit, Ryan White and R.J. Umberger, have now lost Nick Schultz to injury.

    Schultz left Saturday’s game against the Rangers in the first period after taking a hit from Rangers defenseman Dylan McIlrath.

    Luke Schenn went after McIlrath right after he delivered the hit and both players dropped the gloves.

    Schultz did not return.

    You can watch the entire sequence by clicking on the video at the top of the page.

    The 33-year-old has just one assist in 23 games, but he leads the Flyers in blocked shots with 54.