It appears Jiri Hudler’s long wait is finally over as the 11-year veteran winger has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Dallas Stars. Sonny Sachdeva of Today’s Slap Shot – the hockey division of Fan Rag Sports – initially broke the news via Twitter after receiving the word directly from Hudler’s agent, former NHL defenseman Petr Svoboda. Sachdeva later tweeted that Hudler would receive $2MM for the 2016-17 season.
Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News has confirmed the agreement and the terms, indicating only that the contract has yet to be officially signed.
Hudler was one of the top remaining unrestricted free agents on the market ranking 18th on Pro Hockey Rumors’ Top-50 List. He netted 10 goals and 25 assists in 53 games with Calgary in 2015-16 before being dealt to Florida for two draft choices at the trade deadline. He would then contribute six goals and 11 points in 19 regular season contests with the Panthers but would struggle in the postseason, recording a single assist in Florida’s six-game first-round playoff loss to the Islanders.
His 2015-16 campaign was a step down from his performance the previous year when Hudler tied for eighth in scoring with a career best 76 points. He made $4MM in the final year of the four-year deal he inked with Calgary and will see his salary cut in half with his new contract.
The Stars may seem an odd fit for Hudler on the surface as they already boast one of the league’s best offenses and after losing three regular defensemen – Kris Russell, Alex Goligoski and Jason Demers – to free agency, it would have made more sense if any late summer addition was made on the blue line. But clearly Stars management is comfortable allowing a few of their young players to compete for regular roles on defense. Plus the opportunity to add a skilled winger of Hudler’s caliber on the cheap had to be appealing.
Dallas has Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza slotted as their numbers one and two centers with Hudler likely to line up next to one of the talented pivots. He’s also a good bet to see plenty of power play time for the Stars and could be set up for a nice bounce-back season playing with all of the talent in Dallas. A good campaign with the Stars would put Hudler in a better position to hit the free agent market next summer in search of a multiyear deal.
Our friends at Roster Resource have already updated the Stars depth chart based on the reports of the signing.