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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    Optimism won’t come as easily for Lightning after ugly loss to Canucks

    TAMPA, FL - MARCH 17:  Ben Bishop #30 of the Tampa Bay Lightning makes a save in front of Alex Burrows #14 of the Vancouver Canucks at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on March 17, 2014 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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    Maybe the Tampa Bay Lightning aren’t “figuring things out” after all.

    They were able to find the bright side of recent troubles, but what do you really say after a 5-1 loss to the struggling Vancouver Canucks?

    The Lightning have lost two straight, six of seven and seven of nine during a deeply worrisome run. While they did generate more shots on goal tonight, they’ve now given up at least 30 in all but three of their contests since the start of November.

    If the playoffs began today, the Lightning would easily miss them.

    “It’s time for us to step up here,” Ben Bishop said after a game in which he was pulled heading into the third period. “Nobody is going to feel bad for us.”

    Blame it on injuries if you’d like, but Steven Stamkos isn’t coming back anytime soon. If they don’t get things back together, they won’t be playing for much once he can return.

    Flyers wouldn’t give up in seventh straight win; Oilers couldn’t protect a lead

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 08:  Claude Giroux #28 of the Philadelphia Flyers celebrates after scoring a second period goal against the Edmonton Oilers at Wells Fargo Center on December 8, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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    One team just can’t be denied. At times, the other team just can’t seem to defend.

    It was a pretty wild one between the Edmonton Oilers and the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night, with the ultimate result being a 6-5 win for the Flyers.

    The ride was bumpy, dramatic and will probably provide Oilers head coach Todd McLellan with a lot of “teaching moments” (or, let’s be honest, reasons to yell really loud).

    Things started promising enough for the Oilers, who built an early 2-0 lead thanks to a goal and an assist by Leon Draisaitl. You could then cue the horror music, as the Flyers scored three goals in a minute and 12 seconds to grab a brief 3-2 lead:

    There might be some concern about a young team like the Oilers cratering from such a letdown, yet they bounced back … to an extent.

    Edmonton rattled off three unanswered goals, giving them a 5-3 lead about five minutes into the third period. It seemed like it would be a redemptive moment after that three-goal blunder.

    Then there was another three-goal blunder.

    Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux and Michael Raffl helped the Flyers rattling off another three unanswered goals, giving Philly a seventh consecutive win.

    The Oilers? They didn’t even get what sometimes feels like a customary “charity point” by getting to overtime. Three isn’t a magical number for Edmonton lately, as they’ve now lost three in a row. It’s probably safe to say that this one will burn the most.

    Avalanche beat Bruins, even as Pastrnak remains almost unstoppable

    BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 08: Nikita Zadorov #16 of the Colorado Avalanche slides for the puck ahead of David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins during the first period at TD Garden on December 8, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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    David Pastrnak is scoring at an astounding pace. Sometimes it’s still not enough to earn a win for the Boston Bruins.

    The 20-year-old wunderkind scored both of the Bruins’ goals on Thursday, giving him a patently absurd 18 in 23 games. Pastrnak now has five goals in his last three games (not to mention a five-game point streak with those five goals and two assists).

    Calvin Pickard was perfect against Bruins not named Pastrnak, however, and the Colorado Avalanche beat Boston 4-2.

    Perhaps part of the problem was that the Bruins “other” MVP wasn’t in action, then. Tuukka Rask has been right up there with the NHL’s best, but it was Anton Khudobin in net, and he gave up four goals on just 22 shots.

    Rather than taking a step up the ladder, Pastrnak’s made leaps. Similarly, Rask is more than merely rebounding from what was – for his lofty standards – a disappointing campaign in 2015-16.

    The Bruins need more from their supporting cast members, however, especially when one of these two players can’t suit up.

    BREAKING: Carey Price’s composure

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    Even the best goalie in the world – one who makes it look easy – can lose his cool sometimes.

    (Heck, that used to be the domain of Patrick Roy, right?)

    It was quite the sight on Thursday nonetheless: Carey Price absolutely lost his cool and went after Kyle Palmieri during the Montreal Canadiens’ game against the New Jersey Devils. You can watch that spectacle in the video above.

    Palmieri received an interference penalty while Price received a roughing double-minor. Apparently fits of Price anger are rare:

    By Hockey Reference’s numbers, Price has accrued 39 penalty minutes in 465 career regular season games and eight in 54 playoff contests before tonight’s outburst.

    Perhaps it’s just one of those nights.