The RFA watch is probably one of my favorite aspects of the offseason, especially with the cap. Teams find themselves forcing the issue to be creative to keep their best, young players. The Detroit Red Wings, for all their fantastic cap work so far, are going to find themselves in a bit of a situation this offseason. If they decide to resign Marian Hossa, then that leaves absolutely no room for people like Mikael Samuelson (UFA), Chris Chelios (UFA), and/or Jiri Hudler (RFA). The Wings, already with Datsyuk, Franzen, Zetterberg, Filpulla, Cleary, are stacked up front with skilled two-way players, and have Helm on his way to becoming another resourceful two-way player. Hossa and Hudler provide more of the same, but Hossa is in his prime, and Hudler is just 25. Obviously, you can see the pros and the cons of each one.
Should the Wings decide to go with Hossa, then that probably leaves them looking to deal Hudler. Hudler is due for a raise on his $1.105 million salary (and $1.015 million cap hit). With the minimum 10% raise for RFAs, the minimum qualifying offer to Hudler has to be $1.215 million. Obviously, Hudler is worth more than $1.215 million. He put up 23-34-57 for the Wings last season, while doubling his goals and still playing at a +7. Where does 23-34-57, +7 put him in terms of the Rangers? Well…
- his 57 points would put him 3rd on the team
- his 23 goals put him tied for first with Zherdev (Naslund retired, so his top mark of 24 goals isn’t included here)
- his 34 assists put him tied for 3rd on the team with Drury
- his +7 also puts him tied for tops on the team with Cally
- his 22 assists on the powerplay put him in first on the team by a very wide margin
Basically, at 24, Hudler would be a top scorer on the team. He would also provide much needed bang-for-the-buck, as he will definitely improve upon those numbers.
Hudler plays the off-wing very well on both sides of the puck. The Rangers are going to need wingers like him; ones with skill, a scoring touch, and can play the defensive aspect of the game. He would be a nice way to round out a line of Callahan-Gomez-Hudler, leaving a second line of Avery-Drury-Zherdev. It’s cost effective, and probably the best case scenario for the Rangers.
Now, what would Hudler cost? In terms of money, it’s safe to assume he will be getting a nice raise on his salary, assume $2-$2.5 million for three years (totaling $6-$7.5 over the life of the contract). A bargain, if you ask me.
Now, in terms of players, that’s a whole different story. Detroit is in need of young, cheap, good defense. Would you trade Girardi straight up for Hudler? In a heartbeat, I don’t think anyone would even question that move. But obviously, it would take more than Girardi. Maybe Girardi, Parenteau, and a draft pick? Doubtful, but we are getting closer. What about Sanguinetti straight up for Hudler? That’s another one I would do in a heartbeat. It’s worth kicking the tires on.
Image Credit: Zimbio Inc.