While 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.