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Numbers Game: Flames sign Jiri Hudler

Scott Cullen
7/2/2012 10:00:34 PM
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The Calgary Flames added a small, but skilled forward who improves their attack.

Numbers Game looks at the signing of Jiri Hudler.

The Flames Get: RW Jiri Hudler.

Hudler, 28, is coming off perhaps his best season in the NHL, scoring a career-high 25 goals and playing a career-best 15:40 per game while finishing with 50 points and a plus-10 rating.

While Hudler generally had strong ratings in advanced statistical metrics (including Corsi and quality of competition numbers on www.behindthenet.ca), but he did have the lowest percentage of shifts finishing in the offensive zone among any Detroit regulars, so there is at least some indication that he wasn't always moving the puck in the right direction.

What those advanced stats indicate for Hudler is that he was effective on a line with Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula, though there is naturally some concern that Hudler's success was driven by his high quality linemates. 

In Calgary, Hudler will certainly play in a scoring role, perhaps alongside fellow Czech Roman Cervenka, the 27-year-old who is making his first appearance in the NHL after six years in the Czech league and two years in the KHL.

However the lines shake out, it appears that Mike Cammalleri should fit into one of the top two centre positions on the depth chart, in order to fit Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay, Curtis Glencross and Hudler in wing positions on the top two lines.

No matter with whom Hudler ends up playing, it's extremely unlikely that he continues to score on 19.7% of his shots, as he did in 2011-2012. His career mark of 13.7% is on the high side already, but hanging around the 20% range is simply not sustainable.

Four years and $16-million for Hudler is a significant commitment from the Flames, but if he's given adequate ice time, he should be able to put up points. He's scored 50 points or more in two of his last three NHL seasons (sandwiched around 54 points in 54 KHL games in 2009-2010), so if he can continue with that level of production for at least three of the next four seasons, that should qualify as living up to expectations with the Flames.

Hudler's departure does leave a hole in Detroit's top six forward spots, but the Red Wings have options, whether it's free agents that are still available, recently signed Swiss forward Damien Brunner or a prospect like Gustav Nyquist. It's not likely that Detroit will go into next season without a capable replacement filling Hudler's role.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

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