Damien Brunner is just what the Red Wings need: A right-handed winger, who is quick and has the tools and potential to be a 25-to-35-goal scorer. That’s the type of playmaker Detroit hasn’t had in recent years — and, oh yeah, part of why righty Mikael Samuelsson is back.
Sure, Brunner has not proven anything yet in the NHL, but his stats in Switzerland and in the recent World Championships speak for themselves. His last three years he has had 58 points, 46 points and 60 points, respectively, while playing in a max of 47 games in the Swiss-A League for the Zug team. In the World Championships, he had seven points in seven games and has 17 points in 20 total games playing for Switzerland’s national team.
The skill set and opportunity are there with Brunner arriving in Detroit, and now things just need to blossom.
If the assumption is that the Red Wings won’t get Zach Parise, then the thought turns to how can they shake up their forward unit. Make a trade? Maybe. Pick up another free agent or two, in addition to Samuelsson and Jordin Tootoo? Probably. Do nothing? Not likely.
The Brunner situation counts as a free-agent signing, but that isn’t the type of big shake-up we are talking about. Without Parise, though, the remaining options are old or unproven — so, if Brunner pans out, the Red Wings found a diamond in the rough.
On the other hand, if Parise heads elsewhere and Brunner is a flop, the Red Wings are left with a roster that is very similar to last year’s. Not exactly what Detroit fans are looking for.
If Parise comes here and Brunner is solid — he doesn’t have to be Henrik Zetterberg — then this team will look pretty good up front. And if the Wings don’t land the uber-popular Parise, Brunner should get an even greater chance to prove himself. Mike Babcock was quoted last week saying as Brunner had the potential to be a top-six forward, and the word is that Ken Holland is right behind Babcock on that.
The back end of the Red Wings is where Holland needs to do some serious recruiting. With offers on the table to both Parise and Ryan Suter, it’s time to play the waiting game.
Knowing that Brunner — with his exciting potential — is in the bag could help ease the Red Wings’ worries.