There is still a lot of talk about Hudler, Samuelsson, and Brunner. Which one is better? Does Samuelsson suck? Is Hudler slower than molasses? Yes. Who brings more to the table? And why would we want them on the Red Wings? Well to start of we will take a look at Hudler’s, Samuelsson’s, and Brunner’s physical abilities, statistics, and how they fit into their respective team’s systems.
Salary: 16 million/4 years
Stats last 3 seasons:
HC Dynamo Moscow
2009-10 – 54 games, 19 goals, 35 assists, 54 points.
Detroit Red Wings
2010-11 – 73 games, 10 goals, 27 assists, 37 points.
2011-12 – 81 games, 25 goals, 25 assists, 50 points.
After a solid 2008-09 season for Hudler, his agent filled for arbitration and he was awarded a 5.75 million 2 year contract. Hudler decided to play KHL instead of the NHL though, leaving his teammates behind and putting the Red Wings Organisation in an awkward position. While putting up point per game numbers his game regressed. This was most evident when he came back to the Red Wings the next season and put up his worst numbers since his rookie year. He rebounded last season with an impressive performance, but most players tend to put up career numbers in contract seasons. He parleyed this good season into a 4 year contract with Calgary when it became clear the Red Wings were not going to offer him the same amount of money or years. Hudler was the smallest and slowest player on the Red Wings last season.
Salary: 6 million/2 years
Stats last 3 seasons:
2009-10 – 74 games, 30 goals, 23 assists, 53 points.
2010-11 – 75 games, 18 goals, 32 assists, 50 points.
2011-12 – 6 games, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points.
2011-12 – 48 games, 13 goals, 15 assists, 28 points.
While Samuelsson is the oldest one in the group he brings a quick, hard shot to the team. While he was with the Red Wings he was never counted on as a game changer or the guy to score goals. He was a complement to the machine that was Datsyuk and Zetterberg, plus Hossa for a season. After the 2008-09 season the Wings had to decide whether to keep Samuelsson or Hudler and chose Hudler for his youth and growth potential. Samuelsson signed with Vancouver and received a larger role in the offence and he ended up scoring 30 goals in his first season. Now back with Detroit he will be counted on again to complement Datsyuk/Franzen and Zetterberg/Filppula. In a full season he should put up the same number we have always seen from him which is 20 goals and 40 to 45 points.
Salary: 1.35 million/1 year
Stats last 3 seasons:
2009-10 – 47 games, 23 goals, 35 assists, 58 points.
2010-11 – 40 games, 19 goals, 27 assists, 46 points.
2011-12 – 45 games, 24 goals, 36 assists, 60 points.
Brunner is moving from hockey obscurity in the Swiss National League to the NHL with the Red Wings. Brunner is by far the fastest player out of these three. He is, also, the only real game changer out of these three players. The EV Zug offence runs through Brunner and he is counted on to lead the team in points and create opportunities for the players around him. Did I mention that he enjoys shooting the puck (on net), because he does. Through EV Zug’s first 13 games he has racked up 9 goals and 24 points. He, also, has 69 shots on goal to go with his points, which puts him in the lead for shots on goal for his team by 29 shots. After Henrik Zetterberg signed with EV Zug him and Brunner have become a dynamic duo in the Swiss league. When the NHL season starts there could be a continuation of this duo. That is something I am looking forward to.
Hudler and Samuelsson play the same type of game. Each are there to complement the other players around them, but they require a top level talent around them to take pressure away and set them up for shots. When Samuelsson signed with Vancouver he was given a larger role and thrived for two years putting up 50 plus points each season. Will Hudler be able to make that same jump with Calgary? I am not sure he will be able to. Samuelsson is the faster one of the two, but I am not sure anyone is slower than Hudler so that isn’t a great accomplishment. Detroit will pay Samuelsson 2 million less and for 2 less seasons, while Calgary over spent for Hudler. Red Wings were not going to over spend for Hudler, so they went out and found a good, strong replacement. Having Samuelsson instead of Hudler also opens up more doors for the younger, skilled Wings currently in Grand Rapids. Samuelsson is able to play effectively on the 2nd, 3rd, and even 4th line if needed. When Hudler played on a grinding line he looked out of place and couldn’t hold his own as well against the bigger more physical players on those lines. Sammy gives the Wings more range in his ability and a player who will take more shots. Albeit some will go wide, but I will take pucks going wide over not shooting.
Now onto Brunner. He is a wildcard, he has been very good for EV Zug in the Swiss league. How well that will transfer over to the NHL is hard to say, but he certainly has the talent to play in the NHL. He does everything for EV Zug on the ice and is a true game changer. He has been playing with Zetterberg for the last 3 games and if I were to describe how they play together it would be Euro Twins Part 2. Now Brunner is no where near the level Datsyuk plays at, but he holds his own and has a good connection going with Zetterberg so far.
Brunner is the best option to take the spot left over from Hudler’s departure. Brunner brings a different skill set to the second line for the Wings and tends to look for the shot first and pass second, but know one really knows how he will pan out in the NHL, which is why the Wings brought in Samuelsson. Samuelsson should start on the third line and if Brunner does not work out, he will be moved up to the second line. With Samuelsson the Wings do not lose or gain anything from the departure of Hudler.