What a difference a year can make sometimes. Two years ago, Jiri Hudler was eighth in NHL scoring with 31 goals and 45 assists in 78 games. One year later, he’s coming off a down year and isn’t garnering a lot of looks in free agency. Here’s a closer look at his situation.
Before last season even began, it was expected that Hudler would take a step or two back. At no point in his NHL career had he shown flashes of being a top ten scorer so no one figured he’d be able to repeat his 76 point 2014-15 campaign. And while Hudler certainly fell short of matching that point total, he still had a fairly strong season, recording 16 goals and 30 assists in 72 games split between Calgary and Florida, the team he was traded to just prior to the NHL’s Trade Deadline.
Statistically speaking, Hudler is a legitimate top six forward, having put up or at least played at a 40 point pace in every season since 2007-08. So why hasn’t he received a lot of interest so far?
Working against Hudler is his size. At just 5’10, he’s one of the smaller forwards out there and he isn’t the fastest of players either. He’s also 32 which is around the time where players start to exit the primes of their careers. Despite that, he should still have at least a couple of good years left in him in a second line role.
Vancouver is still looking to add top six help and is believed to have contacted Hudler’s agent, Petr Svoboda. Ottawa also needs some more offense and could get in the discussion as the asking price drops. The same can be said for Anaheim, New Jersey, and Carolina. Those could all be potential fits for multi-year deals but if Hudler decides to take a one year pact, the opportunities to join a contending team should increase.
We ranked Hudler 16th on our Top 50 UFA list, projecting a four year, $16MM contract. That was under the assumption that he’d have several suitors early on in free agency. At this point, it seems likely that he’s going to come in below that number, both in term and salary. A one or two year pact seems more probable at this point for Hudler.