Jiri Hudler return official, signs for two years with Detroit

hudler2.jpgWhile the season enters the final stages, for some teams the preparations for next season are well underway and the Red Wings are already making themselves better. According to Chris McCosky at The Detroit News, Jiri Hudler is officially returning to North America for at least two years.

General manager Ken Holland confirmed Monday afternoon that Hudler will earn $2.75 million next season and $3 million in 2011-12, making his salary cap hit $2.875 million.

For those of you curious about cap implications, you’re probably better off waiting to find out what Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom decides to do. Detroit has a lot of money coming off the books and there are some decisions lingering about for a handful of players, but at that price for Hudler, a player who was blossoming finally, you can’t really argue. Hudler is an instant improvement over the likes of say… Jason Williams.

As for the expectations from Hudler, head coach Mike Babcock is setting them pretty high.

“Well, I think it’s 70 points. That’s 70 points we didn’t have. That’s a second power-play unit that can score. It’s more goals for everyone because of the plays he can make.“Huds is gonna be committed. He’ll go and he’ll train all summer long, and he’ll come back in great shape, and he’ll be all fired up. We’re going to give him an opportunity to be a top-six forward. He’s gotta show he can be one, and we’ll see what happens.”

If you’re thinking that’s a bit crazy, maybe not. Hudler’s last season with the Wings he scored 23 goals and finished with 57 points. Ideally a player getting into his prime should improve and having teammates like Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, and Johan Franzen can make life a little easier.

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    PHT Morning Skate: Beat writers survey predicts Ducks will win Cup

    Corey Perry, Frederik Andersen
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    PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

    In a survey of 29 beat writers, the Anaheim Ducks emerged as the clear favorite to win the Stanley Cup. If you’ll recall, they have that in common with the EA Sports simulation. (Boston Globe)

    Alex Ovechkin would pick an Olympic hit against Jaromir Jagr as the biggest check of his life. (Russian Machine Never Breaks)

    Here are the highlights from Minnesota’s 5-4 victory over Colorado:

    The Montreal Canadiens seem committed to using Alex Galchenyuk as a center throughout the 2015-16 campaign. (The Canadian Press)

    The NHL recently enlisted its players to read off some not so mean tweets. (USA Today)

    Bills coach Rex Ryan talked about the Sabres in Thursday’s press conference. (NHL.com)

    Frederik Andersen may have the Anaheim Ducks’ starting job for now, but with John Gibson still a big part of their plans, Andersen has to keep proving himself. (Orange County Register)

    Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

    Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

    DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

    Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

    Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

    Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

    Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

    Fleury had 21 saves.

    The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

    Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

    The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

    Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

    The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

    Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

    NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.