UFA spotlight — Jiri Hudler


All week leading up to Sunday, July 1, we’ll be profiling unrestricted free agents and speculating where they might end up.

Jiri Hudler (LW)

Age: 28

2011-12 cap hit: $2.875 million

The skinny: 

Coming off a tough 2010-11 campaign — you know, the year after he bolted Detroit to join the KHL — Hudler rebounded nicely last season with 25G-25A-50PTS in 81 games, second amongst all Wings in goals.

On the surface, those numbers should make him one of the more highly sought-after UFAs…but there’s a catch.

Okay, catches.

The first is that Hudler’s bounce-back season was viewed by some as the byproduct of linemates Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Fulppula, Detroit’s first- and third-leading scorers respectively. What happens if, or when, Hudler skates with inferior talent?

The second? There are questions what Hudler can do beyond put the puck in the net.

“Hudler can score, but what else does he bring?” wrote Helen St. James of the Detroit Free Press. “He’s not a great skater. He’s not great in his own zone.”

That said, the Czech native looks to be a fit for any team in need of an offensive punch. Thankfully for him, more than a few teams fit the bill.

Minnesota, Los Angeles, New York Islanders, Florida and Columbus were the five lowest-scoring teams in the NHL last year (the Wild didn’t even have a 25-goal scorer). And regarding the aforementioned reference to Zetterberg/Filppula, it has to be said — when you put Hudler with skill guys, he will produce. Steady offensive output has been his calling card. Teams looking to fill out their top six or add something to the power play will likely kick his tires.

Wondering what Hudler’s market value might be? Do consider that, according to, Wings GM Ken Holland wasn’t “apt” to pay him more than Johan Franzen, who has a $3.95 million annual cap hit.

More UFA spotlights

Ryan Suter

Zach Parise

Jason Garrison

Devan Dubnyk pushes shutout streak to two games

ST PAUL, MN - OCTOBER 15: Devan Dubnyk #40 of the Minnesota Wild defends the net against Winnipeg Jets during the game on October 15, 2016 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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Devan Dubnyk already showed signs of having a hot start to 2016-17, but Thursday made that point abundantly clear.

For the second straight game, Dubnyk generated a shutout, with the Minnesota Wild beating the Buffalo Sabres 4-0 in this instance.

It’s not as if Dubnyk is just leisurely turning aside the occasional chance, either; he made 38 saves to blank Buffalo and needed to stop 65 shots on goal considering the 27 he turned aside in a 5-0 win vs. Boston.

Ryan Suter said that Dubnyk bailed his teammates out during the second period, as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo reports.

He’s now allowed just 10 goals in six games so far in 2016-17, with Taylor Hall‘s overtime-winner being the last shot to beat him. That came on Sunday:

More often than not, Dubnyk’s been making those saves so far in this young season.

Video: Another way Patrik Laine evokes Alex Ovechkin

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There are plenty of differences between Alex Ovechkin and Patrik Laine, including obvious things like one being from Russia and the other from Finland.

Still, there are moments when Laine inspires comparisons to his idol, even this early in his rookie season.

Thursday presented one of those moments. It wasn’t just that Laine fired a 3-0 goal home for the Winnipeg Jets against the Dallas Stars with such moxie; it was also that he showed some swagger with a celebration afterward.

This GIF captures the moment brilliantly, while you can also watch the goal in video form.

Sure, there will be some grumbles from the “act like you’ve been here before” crowd, but this is brilliant stuff for the rest of us.

Video: Want another booming hip check? Sean Couturier obliges

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 25:  Sean Couturier #14 of the Philadelphia Flyers looks on against the Buffalo Sabres at Wells Fargo Center on October 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Early this season, Dmitry Orlov delighted onlookers and angered Matt Duchene with a mind-blowing, throwback hip check. People really seemed to enjoy it.

While you’d struggle to top that hit, Philadelphia Flyers forward Sean Couturier must have sensed the void in checks that almost seem to flip opponents, doing so against Anthony Duclair during Thursday’s contest.

Rate this as you will:

Want another look at the Orlov one for comparison’s sake or to chuckle in disbelief? Why not:

Uh oh, Nikita Kucherov might be hurt

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As much as this Tampa Bay Lightning – Montreal Canadiens means right now, losing Nikita Kucherov would hang a dark cloud over any result for the Bolts.

There hasn’t been an update yet regarding whether Kucherov is actually injured – or if this is a minor vs. significant issue – but there are concerns after he fell into the boards during tonight’s game.

You can see the fall in video form above the headline and also in this GIF from Stephanie Hail: