Free Agency Preview: Jiri Hudler
Can this aging winger be the solution the Preds are looking for?
The Basic Info
Jiri Hudler was one of the hot commodities at the trade deadline. Hudler has always been a consistent player, but has only had one breakout season. That was in 2014-2015 when he scored 31 goals and had 76 points on the season.
Hudler, who is now 32 years old, still might have something left in the tank this coming season. Sometimes a new city and new teammates is the shot in the arm someone needs to get their stat line numbers back up. Regardless of where he signs, I believe that Hudler will have plenty of suitors this offseason.
Looking purely at the numbers, Hudler had an average year overall. That's not to mention that he was pretty much non-existent in the playoffs from a stats perspective.
His numbers with the Panthers were actually pretty decent though in the regular season. You would think that playing alongside Teddy Purcell and Nick Bjugstad wouldn't make that much of a difference for Hudler, but Florida found chemistry with these three guys towards the end of the regular season.
The one consistent with Hudler is that you can count on him to eat up quality minutes and zone starts. Just take a look at this chart:
Hudler is in that cluster in the center of blue. This chart tells me two things. The first being that Hudler creates shots and chances in the offensive zone. The second being that the team had faith in Hudler to be on the ice for crucial zone starts. That is a testament to quality of play of Jiri Hudler.
Where Would He Fit?
I find it hard to put Hudler anywhere else other than the third line on this Nashville team. He is a good two way player, but doesn't bring the offensive production that the Preds would need to put him on one of the top two lines.
With that being said though, I do believe that Hudler would be an excellent fit on the third line. In my opinion, Hudler wouldn't quite fit on Nashville's second line, but he is definitely better than being on the third line of this team. He is caught in limbo as far as talent and line positioning goes. So unfortunately for him, he would only fit on the Preds' third line.
One thing that is certain with Hudler though is that he would bring some added depth to the wing position on this team. Where ever you put him, you know he is going to work hard and bust his butt.
Does It Make Sense?
Let's just look at Hudler's contract numbers for the past four seasons:
He has made $4 million a year for the past four seasons. I just don't see David Poile spending that much money on a guy who is 32 years old, and would most likely be playing on the third line. My guess is that he will probably be going for $2.5 - $4 million a year this offseason.
Having a player like him would definitely bring some extra leadership and veteran experience in the locker room. But the price is just too high in my opinion. If Poile can get him for $1 - $2 million per year, I would be all for it. But I won't be holding my breath on that one.