Hudler's agent, Petr Svoboda, confirmed to Red Wings general manager Ken Holland on Wednesday night that the 25-year-old forward has signed a two-year deal with Moscow Dynamo and plans to play in the Kontinental Hockey League. He will earn $5 million a season, tax-free."I'm going forward, planning that he's not going to be in a Red Wings uniform," Holland said.
So what does this mean for the Wings?
- The Red Wings and Hudler's agent will still head to arbitration, which could start as early as July 20.
- As a result, Detroit will hold the rights to Hudler should he decide to return to the NHL after his two-year stint in the KHL.
- Hudler has to abide by the contract determined at arbitration. So if the arbitrator awards a two-year, $2.5 million salary, Hudler would have to stick to that when he comes back even if he would be valued more.
- What's good about this? Signing Hudler was going to put us over the cap. By taking a year or two in Russia, we'll have time to clear up some cap space and be able to truly afford Hudler should he return. Next summer, we have quite a few players who will become unrestricted free agents (Lidstrom, Lilja, Lebda, Holmstrom, and Maltby) plus restricted free agents (Helm, Meech, and Abdelkader). Our lineup and salary cap situation could look very different in a year or two and perhaps Hudler will return next season or the year after when that's all figured out.
- What's bad? While Hudler will certainly take on more responsibility and minutes with his new team, I don't know how much his game is going to truly improve. Please correct me in the comments if you disagree.
- In addition, I have no idea how the Wings are going to overcome the loss of 88 goals scored last season with $1.5-2 million left under the cap (that number has been disputed).
- My only consolation about this whole crappy summer thanks to the salary cap is the fact that as bad as this has been, Chicago is going to have it so much worse next year. Thanks to their qualifying offer mishap, I believe they paid guys more than they would have otherwise and it's going to make things real interesting next summer.
FYI- ESPN.com reports that GM Ken Holland made Hudler an offer on Monday. Apparently, he gave his agent a number and then said that Detroit could do it in a three-year term or anywhere up to a five-year deal. But if Hudler ever decides to come back, he's going to have to play under the contract decided on in arbitration.
"And he's going to have a contract that he's going to have to honor when he comes back," Holland said. "If he ever does come back."