Damien Brunner’s blessing last season has turned into a curse this offseason.
He played 44 games with the Detroit Red Wings and had 26 points, setting himself up for a tidy payday as an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Problem No. 1: It was the 27-year-old’s only NHL season.
Problem No. 2: It was a season during which he played with all-world talent like Henrik Zetterberg, which no doubt left some teams wondering how he’d play outside of Detroit.
Sometimes, the second problem gets ignored in free agency, and that’s how the Buffalo Sabres end up with Ville Leino. In Brunner’s case, it wasn’t. Combine that with his desire for a multi-year deal at around $2.5 million against the cap per season, and he went unsigned through the beginning of September.
So now what for Brunner? According to Luzernerzeitung.ch, he could head to EV Zug of the Swiss National A League on a “game to game” basis, allowing him to play on a professional contract during their regular season instead of, say, heading to an NHL camp on a tryout deal.
He’s considered one of the best goal scorers in Swiss hockey history; hence, even a brief return to the League would benefit both player and team, as Brunner starred for Zug from 2008-13.
But the deal would have an out clause, allowing him to head back to the NHL if some team decided to take a chance on him. Hey, maybe they can hire that Zetterberg impersonator, too. Make him feel at home.