With the trade deadline approaching, several teams have reportedly been showing interest in Calgary Flames forward Jiri Hudler, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this off-season.
It has not been revealed which teams have expressed interest in the 32-year old Czech, but the Detroit Red Wings should target Hudler at the trade deadline. Here’s why:
Hudler spent his first 5 full seasons with the Red Wings, including in 2008 when the team won the Stanley Cup. He is familiar with the organization and has played with several current Wings, so the transition to the team would not be too difficult for him. While in Detroit, Hudler was a solid secondary scorer, surpassing the 20-goal mark twice as primarily a third or fourth line player.
The Red Wings have struggled to score all season, only averaging 2.5 goals per game, which ranks 21st in the NHL. Come playoff time (and if they want to make the playoffs in the first place), Detroit needs to score more goals. They need consistent production outside of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Dylan Larkin. While Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar have been expected to provide offense, they have shown that they are too inconsistent to be relied on.
Acquiring Hudler could provide a spark for the Red Wings’ offense and take some of the pressure off of Datsyuk and Zetterberg. Hudler is a veteran with ample playoff experience who knows what it takes to win the Stanley Cup.
Since leaving Detroit, Hudler has emerged as a top-six forward and a leader for the Calgary Flames. He had a career year last season in which he scored 31 goals and racked up 76 points, as well as winning the Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct (Pavel Datsyuk has won this four times). He had a slow start to this season after dealing with injuries, but has heated up as of late.
Datsyuk and Zetterberg are not going to be around forever, so the Red Wings need to do whatever they can to give their team the best chance of winning the Stanley Cup before they are both gone. Jiri Hudler is not a superstar, but he is a much better player now than he was during his time in Detroit and can be a difference maker for the Red Wings during the remainder of the season. If the Red Wings heat up throughout the final stretch of the schedule, they will be a dangerous team with plenty of momentum heading into the playoffs.
What do you think, Nation, would you like to see Hudler return to Hockeytown?