With Jiri Hudler and the Moscow Dynamo seeing an early first round exit from the KHL playoffs, talks began to heat up around the potential return of Hudler to the NHL, and the Detroit Red Wings. Now, it has been made official, Happy Hudler will wear the winged wheel once again. Hudler has been released from his contract with the KHL, and will honor the two year deal he was awarded in arbitration last summer.
Hudler re-joins the the Red Wings during what looks to be the prime of his career. During the 2008-09 season, he amassed 23 goals and 34 assists for 57 points in 82 regular season games. His contributions in the playoffs have been vital as well, adding to the secondary scoring that is most crucial for long playoff runs. Last season in the KHL, Hudler finished the season on a point per game pace, notching 19 goals and 35 assists for 54 points in as many games. Expect Hudler to make an impact immediately with the Wings next season, seeing time on one of top two lines.
This addition for the 2010-11 roster, leaves a lot of questions for the Wings this off-season. Forwards Tomas Holmstrom, Todd Bertuzzi, Jason Williams, Kirk Maltby, and Brad May are all unrestricted free agents. In addition, Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader, Patrick Eaves, Drew Miller and Mattias Ritola are all restricted free agents. With 7 forwards still under contract for next season, it looks like about half of the aforementioned players could be seeing ice time elsewhere next season, or decide to retire.