Babcock on Brunner: “He’ll be a top six forward to start with us and see where he goes with us.”

DETROIT — Last training camp it was Fabian Brunnstrom.

This training camp it looks like it could be Damien Brunner.

“He’ll be a top six forward to start with us and see where he goes with us,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said of the Swiss-sniper. “I know a lot about him because I went to the World Championships and watched him play.

“The thing for us is he’s high paced, he scored, he looks like he has tons of skill,” Babcock added. “Can he adjust and play in the North American game? We’re going to give him every opportunity.”

Babcock felt Brunnstrom, who won a job in training camp last season, was a top-six forward last season and he played just five games in Detroit and had one assist. In Grand Rapids he had 12 goals and 23 assists in 45 games.

Brunner, who led the Swiss League in scoring last season, agreed to a one-year, two-way contract with Detroit. It’s a deal he’s expected to sign on July 1, barring any complications.

“I went to the World Championship and watched this guy practice every day, I watched him play, I stood in the hallway and let him walk by me,” Babcock said. “Now does that mean he’s any good? We think he is. Have I been wrong before? Many times.”

The Wings also like that Brunner is a right-handed shot.

“I encouraged Ken (Holland) to come, Ken looked at him and he liked him too, so we put our best foot forward and we think he’s a good fit,” Babcock said. “Our top six, (Johan) Franzen and (Pavel) Datsyuk and (Henrik) Zetterberg and (Valtteri Filppula) are all left-hand shots, this is a right-hand shot, who plays fast.”

Brunner, 26, is a fast-skating, highly skilled winger that totaled 24 goals and 34 assists in 45 games with Zug of Switzerland’s National League A.

Babcock also envisions Brunner playing on the power play.

“He loves to score goals,” Babcock said. “The way I look at it is that you have to make decisions and try to get better. We’ve been able to encourage the kid to join us. He could have gone anywhere he wanted, he chose to be a Red Wing.”

Babcock would not compare Brunner to unrestricted free agent Jiri Hudler, who looks as if he’ll test out free agency on July 1.

“Huds can play in traffic and handle the puck and make plays,” Babcock said. “This guy is a shooter and a skater.”


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