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Forward Jiri Hudler signed with Dynamo Moscow of the KHL on Wednesday in a surprising turn of events. It was expected that the Wings wouldn’t be able to hold onto all four of their major free agents this summer (Marian Hossa, Mikael Samuelsson, Jiri Hudler, and Tomas Kopecky), but I don’t think many people anticipated that all four would not return this year. As a result, the talk of the media world and blogosphere has been on Hudler’s signing and what the Wings are going to do now.
So what happened?
On Sunday, Hudler filed for arbitration so that no other team could submit an offer sheet to him. He then received an offer from Dynamo Moscow, a team in the Kontinental Hockey League, that he just couldn’t turn down. The two-year deal was reportedly worth between $3-5 million per year and tax free according to ESPN.com. That means Hudler will make much more than he would have with the Red Wings due to taxes.
The Wings and Hudler’s agent will still go to arbitration, which will begin no earlier than July 20. As a result, the Wings will still have the rights to Hudler should he return to the NHL after his stint in Russia. The arbitrator will determine the term and salary with a maximum of a two-year deal. If Huds does return and whenever he does, he will have to abide by that salary. Let’s say Hudler is awarded a two-year, $2.5 million salary in arbitration. Upon his return whether it’s next year or in five years, Hudler will play two years with the Wings at that salary.
The blogosphere is mostly responding in shock or confusion because none of them anticipated all four players would leave. In fact, early reactions to the rumor Hudler was signing with a Russian team indicated that bloggers felt it was a negotiating ploy rather than an actual decision to play overseas. Before the deal became official, Bill at Abel to Yzerman blogged that Hudler simply needed to sign the deal that GM Ken Holland was offering. Kyle at Babcock’s Death Stare wasn’t surprised to learn that Hudler would not return to Detroit this year, but he thought Detroit had re-signed at least one of the other guys or got a couple draft picks from an offer sheet. Matt of On the Wings says that he’s not bitter about Hudler leaving for more money, but doesn’t deny that this one hurts.
While the Wings hate to lose 88 goals in the off-season, Hudler’s absence without him turning to another NHL team will provide the Wings with some room under the cap. Detroit has somewhere around $1.5-2 million left under the cap, which they will likely use to sign a cheap depth forward or two. Management is not really in a rush to get that done, but will take their time to find the right player to fit in the system and under the cap. Who would you like to see the front office sign this off-season to fill out the roster?
The Red Wings announced their 2009-10 preseason schedule yesterday afternoon, which is slated to kick off on Sept. 16 against the Philadelphia Flyers at Joe Louis Arena. Eight of the nine matchups will be against Eastern Conference teams, including back-to-back contests versus Toronto and a game against the Penguins. Detroit will wrap up its preseason in Sweden to prepare for the season opener overseas. For a full preseason schedule, visit DRW.com.
Development camp continues
The Red Wings are holding their annual development camp this week with 33 participants, including 15 players who are not Detroit prospects but were invited to the camp. Once again, George Malik of Snapshots has another incredibly thorough recap of Day Two of the development camp.
Since the last edition of Around the Rink, DRW.com has posted four more features on players participating in the camp. We talked to Andrej Nestrasil and Brian Lashoff on the second day of camp. DRW.com readers learned how Nestrasil has adapted to the Quebec league after growing up in the Czech Republic, just like the Red Wings’ director of player development Jiri Fischer. For more on Nestrasil, check out our 11-minute interview with him. Despite being undrafted, Lashoff earned a three-year entry-level deal after last year’s training camp.
Yesterday, we featured tough guy Mitchell Callahan and offensive defenseman Nick Jensen. As the first grinder prospect to be drafted by Detroit in about 11 years, Callahan reminds some of a younger Darren McCarty and he models his game after Darcy Tucker. Instead of playing high school hockey in his senior year, Jensen left to play in the USHL. It was the right decision as Jensen finished the season with a league-leading +34 rating, the attention of NHL scouts, a commitment to St. Cloud State University, and then becoming a Red Wings’ draft pick.
Hockeytown Blog will wrap up our coverage of the development camp later today at DRW.com.