With Hudler intent on KHL, Red Wings ready to move on

Greg Wyshynski
July 22, 2009

The Detroit Red Wings and RFA forward Jiri Hudler(notes) are going to arbitration next week, but it feels like GM Ken Holland is treating it as a formality.

Hudler has a two-year, $10 million (tax-free!) deal on the table with Moscow Dynamo in the KHL, and Ansar Khan of MLive.com reports that Hudler's agent has informed Holland of the winger's intent to play in Russia next season.

From Khan(!), who claims that the NHL "apparently will not be able to prevent" Hudler from playing in the KHL:

The salary arbitration hearing will determine Hudler's contract if and when he returns to the NHL. The Wings, whose last offer to Hudler was for five years at $15 million, will ask for a two-year deal. The arbitrator can side with the Wings or Hudler, or award any amount in between.

Holland said it's highly unlikely the Wings exercise their "walk away" option and lose Hudler's NHL rights.

(Additional thought: If the Wings don't walk away, will the KHL walk away from Hudler as was their vow?)

The NHL has filed a complaint with the IIHF about the Hudler situation, and one imagines the battle of this signing might continue. The concept that a player filing for arbitration is in essence committing to that team for the following season is a vital one to clarify, in lieu of this poaching by the KHL.

As for the Red Wings, Matt Saler of On The Wings evaluates this Hudler news thusly:

If this is all true, it's mixed news, since it means both that the Wings have cap space free (good) and they're losing a key asset in Hudler (bad). Still, it's the best outcome we could have expected since Hudler signed with the KHL. He won't be forced back against his will at a rate higher than the Wings could really afford, and could end up returning down the road when the Wings have more space.

Khan reports that the Wings are $1.6 million under the cap. Any of these relatively big names still available fit into that price range?