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UFA of the Day: Jiri Hudler

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Every day until June 30, we’ll write about a pending unrestricted free agent. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

Jiri Hudler

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.

From the Sun Sentinel:

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.

P.K. Subban gets a warm tribute during his return to Nashville

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It would have been silly for Nashville Predators fans to boo P.K. Subban during his return to “Smashville.”

Subban didn’t choose to be traded from Montreal to Nashville, and he didn’t elect to be sent from Nashville to the New Jersey Devils, either.

Sports fans aren’t always so rational, though. Really, it makes sense: spending so much money, time, and emotional energy on a game isn’t exactly the most rational thing to do. So there was some concern about how Subban would be received, especially since he’s already booed in an honestly uncomfortably large number of NHL arenas already.

Subban and others can breathe a sigh of relief, though, as while not everyone greeted Subban with open arms in as literal a way as Roman Josi did with their hug on Saturday, the team gave Subban a fantastic welcome back tribute video:

Not only does that video include some of Subban’s great moments during his three seasons with the Predators (that Stanley Cup Final appearance, a Norris Trophy win), it also captures some of the off-the-ice qualities that make Subban so fun and entertaining (and make people sometimes get perplexingly, maybe troublingly mad about him). He got up and decided to sing some Johnny Cash upon arriving in Nashville, was a fantastic charitable presence, and was a lot of fun.

(No Listerine was spilled in the making of the ad, but you can’t have it all.)

Anyway, good on the Predators and their fans for welcoming P.K. back.

As a reminder, Montreal Canadiens fans greeted him with love upon his return, too:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Avs’ rising star Cale Makar shaken by hit from Bruins’ Marchand

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The Colorado Avalanche have done a masterful job, for the most part, when it comes to rolling with injury-related punches to key players such as Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog. They have to hope that Saturday didn’t send another such haymaker their way.

Rising star defenseman Cale Makar (who just fell under a point per game on Saturday with 28 in 29 contests) was clearly shaken up by a hard hit by Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand.

It didn’t seem like a heinous hit by Marchand, although there are some who wonder if it was a bit high.

Either way, Makar’s reaction is troubling. You can see him shake his head multiple times following the hit, which gives the impression that he could have suffered a concussion. That doesn’t guarantee that Makar did, but it’s a situation to watch — and one the Avalanche should absolutely be careful about.

The Avalanche ended up beating the Bruins 4-1 on Saturday.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Laila Anderson, bone marrow donor attend Blues game

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If it got a “little dusty” at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis on Saturday, that’s understandable, because the continued story of Laila Anderson meeting Kenton Felmlee, her bone marrow donor, is sure to make most get a case of heightened allergies.

(Is that a leak from the ceiling? /Sobs)

Anyway, Felmlee was Anderson’s guest during Saturday’s Toronto Maple Leafs – St. Louis Blues game, giving the two another chance to bond, and beyond that, for Anderson to thank Felmlee for helping her in her battle with the rare immune disease HLH.

It’s great stuff, even if the actual Blues game isn’t going so great for St. Louis.

This longer clip from their first meeting earlier this week is worth watching, unless you don’t want people to see you openly weeping’n’stuff:

(Personally, I’d say it’s worth it.)

MORE ON LAILA ANDERSON AND THE BLUES:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Canucks’ Miller scored an awesome water bottle breaker in OT

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Over time, you can become jaded as a sports (and specifically hockey) fan.

Stories about abusive coaches, lockouts, fans booing players for simply no longer being on their teams — it can sap some of the joy of the game.

Thankfully, we have highlights, and I can’t think of many simpler joys than someone scoring a goal and absolutely obliterating the goalie’s water bottle in the process. (As long as no one gets too dehydrated in the making of such films.)

Vancouver Canucks winger J.T. Miller did it one better on Saturday: he scored an important goal that way. Miller presented the ultra-rare OTBBGWG (overtime bottle-breaking game-winning goal) as the Canucks beat the Buffalo Sabres 6-5 in OT.

Bask in the glory of that goal in the video above this post’s headline. Here’s a fun alternate angle:

By the way, Miller continues to be a deadly offensive weapon for the Canucks. This one-goal, one-assist output extended his current point streak to an impressive eight games (5G, 6A for 11 points). Overall, Miller has 31 points in 30 games during his first season in Vancouver.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.