David Jones scored 20 goals and finished with 37 points last season. Jiri Hudler lit the lamp 25 times and hit the 50-point mark.
So if Jones can land a four-year, $16-million deal, as he received this week to stay with the Colorado Avalanche, how much is Hudler worth? Whatever the answer is, the Red Wings may be well out of the running before it’s revealed.
Wings GM Ken Holland told MLive’s Ansar Khan that the Wings are “prepared to offer (Hudler a contract),” but it’s hard to imagine Detroit even getting to Jones’ financial stratosphere with that offer — meaning that if Hudler wants to stay in Detroit, he will have to do so by taking the ol’ “hometown discount.”
More likely, Hudler will be able to find a team willing to pay him somewhere between $4 and $5 million per year (at least), given the lack of goal-scorers set to hit the market on July 1. And the Wings, for as much as they may like Hudler back, don’t figure to stretch that high.
That’s the right decision, too, even though Detroit struggled so mightily to score goals.
Hudler finished second on the team with 25 markers, four behind Johan Franzen. Unfortunately, much like Franzen, Hudler couldn't really be counted to deliver a timely goal and struggled in the playoff series with Nashville. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more underwhelming 25-goal season in recent Red Wings history -- Hudler had just three multi-goal games and two of those turned out to be Detroit losses.
Hudler's seemingly inevitable departure will leave another void to fill, of course, on top of Detroit's need to replace Brad Stuart and Nicklas Lidstrom on the blue line and, possibly, to find a backup netminder.
Of course, should Holland, for some reason, raise the stakes and give Hudler an offer that is competitive with what he might find in free agency, it would tell us a couple of things: 1. Detroit is confident that Hudler can make 25-goal seasons a regular thing; and 2. Even if Zach Parise's considering Hockeytown, there are not enough other dynamic free agents to excite the Wings.
That pairing of possibilities seems unlikely. And so Hudler's up-and-down run in Detroit definitely appears to be at an end.