Every day until June 30, we’ll write about a pending unrestricted free agent. Today’s UFA of the Day is…
In a bid to help bolster their lineup for the playoffs, the Florida Panthers went out just prior to the trade deadline and acquired Jiri Hudler from the Calgary Flames in exchange for two draft picks — a second-round selection in 2016 and a fourth-round selection in 2018.
The Panthers were eliminated in the first round, losing in six games to the New York Islanders. Hudler played in all six post-season games and registered only a single point — held without a shot on goal in three of those games, too — and could now become an unrestricted free agent when July 1 rolls around in less than two weeks.
2016-17 salary status: Earned $4 million this year and is an UFA.
What’s next: The Panthers’ depth in the minors, makes it highly unlikely the Panthers will sign Hudler, 32.
In a contract year, Hudler saw his overall point production drop back down compared to the marvelous, breakout 2014-15 season he put together with the Flames, while playing mostly on a line with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.
That was his final full season with Calgary. Hudler scored 31 goals and 76 points. Only seven players in the entire league had more points and only 11 players had more goals.
In addition to a lower-body injury in January, Hudler had 35 points in 53 games before he was traded. When he got to Florida, he produced 11 points in 19 regular season games. Things took another turn toward the end of May when Hudler was left off the Czech roster for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.
Hudler’s previous season in Calgary was what garnered the attention of Dale Tallon, then the Panthers’ GM, leading up to the deadline deal. The Panthers have since gone and acquired 20-year-old forward Jared McCann from the Vancouver Canucks. As per stats.hockeyanalysis.com, the veteran forward was 25th in the league with 2.10 points-per 60 minutes for players with more than 750 minutes of ice time as five-on-five.
Other UFA forwards will likely garner more attention and command more term, but despite his age, Hudler may still be able to provide another team with an experienced point producer. But will this season, capped by a lack of production in the 2016 playoffs, have some NHL GMs turning their heads in another direction?
Click here for all our 2016 UFA profiles.