Over at the Detroit Free Press, Helene St. James examines Jiri Hudler’s future in Detroit.
Specifically, does he have one?
Hulder is one of the question marks in a Detroit offseason full of ’em. At first glance, it seems like bringing him back is a no-brainer — he finished second on the Wings with 25 goals last season and is only 28 years old.
But, as St. James writes, he’s not exactly a multi-faceted player.
Hudler can score, but what else does he bring? He’s not a great skater. He’s not great in his own zone. He definitely benefited from playing this season with Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula, two of the game’s best two-way centers.
In fairness to Hudler, he also earned the right to play with Zetterberg and Filppula by being consistent offensively.
Hulder’s future in Detroit is tied to the direction Wings GM Ken Holland will take. For years Detroit has been a steadying, constant presence, rarely overturning the roster, relying on familiar faces. But that could all change following an opening round playoff flameout and the prospect of big free agent signings (Ryan Suter, Zach Parise) on the horizon.
If Holland chooses to breathe fresh air into the group, will it whisk Hulder out?
The X-Factor, as it usually is, will be money. Hudler played the last two seasons on a two-year, $5.75 million RFA deal (awkwardly agreed to after he bailed on the Wings for the KHL, then returned.) The truth of the matter is he might be more valuable to an offensively-challenged team than he is to Detroit and, ergo, able to score big bucks on the open market.
For the final analysis, we’ll turn it back to St. James.
“He has given [the Wings] several good years,” she writes. “But I’d be surprised if the relationship continues.”