DETROIT – It appears Jiri Hudler has made up his mind and it looks like he’ll be testing free agency on July 1.
At least that’s what Wings general manger Ken Holland thinks.
“Right now it looks like he’s going to July 1,” Holland said Thursday.
Hudler could be expecting a big payday on July 1 after scoring a career-high 25 goals last season to go along with 25 assists and finished a plus-10 in the plus/minus category.
Only New Jersey’s Zach Parise (31 goals) and Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne (26 goals) scored more among players eligible for unrestricted free agency.
Hudler could be looking for the type of money Colorado gave forward David Jones this offseason. Jones, who scored just 20 goals and had 17 assists, got a four-year deal with $16 million.
“He’s 28, he’s coming off a 25-goal season,” Holland said last week. “He’s got the right to go to free agency. We’ll see what happens. Right now Jiri will continue take time to determine what he wants to do.”
Hudler rebounded from a disastrous 2010-11 season, when he scored only 10 goals.
This year he benefited from playing on a line with Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula.
“Obviously, everybody knows how I feel about Detroit,” Hudler said after the Wings were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Nashville Predators. “I like it, the fans. I don’t know (about the future). We’ll see. It’s a great group. It’s a great hockey team.”
The Wings would like to retain him, but probably at no more than around $3.3 million per season.
They’re not going to pay Hudler more than Johan Franzen ($3.95 million a season) or what they expect to pay Filppula on his next deal.
“Last year didn’t go my way, I was frustrated,” Hudler said last season. “It was tough, but this is a new year.
“I wouldn’t say happy,” Hudler said when asked about his offensive output.
Hudler was delivered a quick message at training camp, beginning his time in Traverse City on a line with Fabian Brunnstrom and Ryan Johnson.
“Those things can’t be given to you for free,” Babcock said at the time.
Two seasons ago, Hudler played on a line with Mike Modano and Danny Cleary.
Hudler, who had worked out in California the last few years prior to the start a season, changed his offseason workout regimen, opting to train this summer with UFC trainer Jonathan Chaimberg.
Hudler scored 23 goals and had 34 assists in the 2008-09 season and it won him a two-year deal from an arbitrator at $2.875 million a season.
Instead he played one season in the Kontinental Hockey League where he had 19 goals and 35 assists in 54 games before returning to Detroit.
The Wings also have two restricted free agents they’ve made qualifying offers to – forward Justin Abdelkader and defenseman Kyle Quincey.
The Wings would like to get Abdelkader to sign a four-year deal at just under $2 million a season.
Quincey could be more difficult to sign at the number the Wings want since he made $3.25 million a year ago. They’re hoping to get him at a modest raise.