Archive for July, 2009

Griffins Follow Red Wings’ Example

Via George Malik: The Grand Rapids Griffins, AHL affiliate of the Red Wings, were the least penalized team in the AHL this past season with 963 PIM. This number set the record for lowest number of penalty minutes for an 80-game season in AHL history, breaking the 1976-77 record of 986 minutes by the Rhode Island Reds. This was with Aaron Downey, Justin Abdelkader (Mr. Dumb Penalty) and Darren McCarty (though he only played half the season).

Breakthrough on Hudler Situation

Looks like the Wings can start looking for a free agent forward or two now.

Ansar Khan has it from Ken Holland that Jiri Hudler will not negotiate a deal prior to arbitration and reports that the NHL “apparently”* can’t keep Hudler from the KHL. If that’s true, the Wings no longer have to account for the possibility a forced return and will be able to return to market for filling out the roster.

Hudler will apparently go to arbitration, but it will only settle Hudler’s contract should he ever return to the NHL with a couple cheap grinder-with-hands types.

If this is all true, it’s mixed news, since it means both that the Wings have cap space free (good) and they’re losing a key asset in Hudler (bad). Still, it’s the best outcome we could have expected since Hudler signed with the KHL. He won’t be forced back against his will at a rate higher than the Wings could really afford, and could end up returning down the road when the Wings have more space.

I just hope this is the last word on it for a while.

*No source explicitly cited, though context says it’s Holland.

Quick Links

Couple quick links:

First, Ansar Khan has the latest on the Jiri Hudler saga. I don’t see many teams lining up to make a trade for Hudler, but I do think the Wings will end up shopping him. Even if he’s awarded something close to what they offered.

Otherwise, they’d have to trade someone who actually wants to be here so they have enough room to keep Jiri, and that seems out of character. They’d only have 48 hours to walk away if they can’t find any takers.

Second, the scedule came out yesterday. Kyle’s got a reaction here. All I’ll say is the home opener will be interesting.

On Hudler and the KHL

Update (09. Jul, 12:27 PM): The pretty reliable guys at The Fourth Period tweeted this today:

DET tried to convince Jiri Hudler to stay, but it didn’t work. He’s going to Russia next year signing a 2-yr, $10M deal (tax free) w/ Dynamo

That’s right, $5 million a year, tax free. If true, Hudler’s departure just got a whole lot less surprising. There’s no way the Wings come even close to that kind of money, and there’s little chance that even some of the dumber GMs around the League would pay him that much, even if Hudler wanted to go elsewhere in the NHL.

Yesterday’s reports of $2 million a year, tax free, puzzled me because it didn’t seem like he’d bolt over the difference in between a taxed $2-3 million and a non-taxed $2 even with his personal issues about his role. If the number above is right, though, it’s harder to blame him.

Still hurts big-time, though. – Matt

Update (10:06 PM): Well, looks like this is the confirmation I was looking for: barring a miracle change of heart, Hudler’s playing in the KHL next season.

The Wings will go to arbitration and continue to try to work out a deal, but it seems the little guy’s made up his mind to leave the team that gave him a spot in the NHL even in a time where bigger is just about always considered better. Sure, he never got a big time role, but he never showed he could handle the minutes as he was always better with limited ice time. He fit in right where he was and while on one hand I can’t blame him for his frustration, on the other it’s surprising that winning wasn’t enough.

I liked Jiri too much to get too bitter about it, but there’s no denying this one hurts. As George says, losing three of five free agent forwards was expected, but four just feels like a beating. At least Leino signed, eh?

The Wings retain Hudler’s rights as long as he’s out of the NHL, but after this jerking-around, would we want him back? Today, I can’t say I would. Unfortunately for Jiri, the track record of minor-ish NHL players going over to the KHL and making it big and/or coming back doesn’t seem all that great.

Good luck in Moscow, Jiri. I hope you find the role you’re looking for there. Thanks for your time in Detroit. – Matt

Update (8:21 PM): This whole thing doesn’t fully line up for me. I’m still in wait-and-see mode. More as details solidify. – Matt

Busy day at work, so I’m behind on all the Hudler stuff flying around. Paul, George, and Kyle have been keeping up, though. I’ll probably chime in with more later today, after work and, I hope, after some dust has settled (i.e. more facts are in).

Hudler Files for Arbitration

Ansar Khan reports that Jiri Hudler has made it official: he and the Wings will head to arbitration if they can’t reach a deal before hearings start later this month. The Wings haven’t been to arbitration since 1995 (Ray Shepherd), so there’s a good chance that Huds will sign before then.

No official word on Ville Leino yet, but there’s no reason to believe his pending sigining isn’t still pending.

Qualified Good News on Leino and Hudler

According to Helene St. James, the Wings will have Leino signed to a two-year contract very soon, possibly today. That’s great news, if it pans out. The team needs Leino to stick around, obviously, and he needs the Wings to keep him since they probably offer his best chance at regular NHL ice time right now.

The Hudler news is a mix of good and bad: he’s apparently filing for arbitration this weekend. As George Malik points out, that means teams can no longer tender him offer sheets, which is  a definite good thing. The downside, of course, is that the arbitrator can award Hudler a salary higher than the Wings might like to pay.

They could trade his rights at that point if they wanted to, but as long as it’s not too high, they’d probably bite the bullet and keep him. It just could be the difference between signing a veteran forward or bringing up a not-quite-ready Abdelkader.

Also, most of us would consider this good news: it looks like Samuelsson’s priced himself out of returning.

All in all, this is comparatively great news after the pretty crappy events of the first day of free agency (even though I wasn’t a fan of keeping him, losing Hossa to Chicago wasn’t exactly a highlight of the off-season). The summer could have gone even further south had Hudler and Leino played the Wings tougher in negotiations, but it looks like things are headed to a good conclusion.

Meg and I will be on the road in Metro Detroit and away from the computer today, so if the Leino signing happens, I won’t be around to post on it.