Reasonable Expectations: Jiri Hudler

Jiri Hudler was Calgary’s leading scorer last year, putting up 54 points for the Flames. It’s the most points he’s had in the NHL since 2008-09. However, he was a bit enigmatic, often playing invisibly and occasionally appearing and doing something cool in the offensive zone.

What can we expect from Hudler in 2014-15? It probably depends on how he’s used.

Season       Corsi %              Corsi Rel %        PDO          
2010-11 52.8% -0.4% 98.6
2011-12 54.7% -0.1% 102.4
2012-13 47.2% -0.4% 98.4
2013-14 46.7% +1.3% 103.2

 

Historically, Hudler is a carryable player. He’s not amazing possession-wise; he won’t carry anybody to greatness, and he won’t sink his line. Over the past four years, he spent two with Detroit and two with Calgary. Based on his Corsi % you can probably pick which was which, but if you ignore that his numbers look roughly the same across the board.

HUDLER’S 2013-14 NUMBERS

Jiri Hudler’s 2013-14 season was spent primarily as an on-ice mentor for guys like Mikael Backlund, who eventually drifted away from his tutelage and turned out just fine, and Sean Monahan. Monahan and Hudler both gelled well together, inasmuch as Monahan also seemed to disappear for stretches at even-strength and then appear with great effect in the offensive zone. And both had crazy-high shooting percentages: Hudler shot 15.6% on 109 shots, while Monahan was slightly better at 15.7% on 140 shots.

In terms of stats, Hudler had a good year: he led the Flames in points, assists, even-strength primary points, even-strength primary assists, and he had the team’s best even-strength on-ice shooting percentage (10.7% of all pucks on net when in for his line) and fifth-best on-ice save percentage (92.2% of all pucks on net were stopped by the Flames goalies).

Aside from playing primarily with Backlund and/or Monahan for most of the year, Hudler received a lot of sheltering. The only “regular” (quarter-season or more) forwards that started more often in the offensive end were Kevin Westgarth, Brian McGrattan and Sven Baertschi, but he was middle-of-the-road for quality of competition (on-par with Curtis Glencross or Paul Byron). His most effective line was when he was used with Monahan and Joe Colborne.

In short: Hudler wasn’t Calgary’s best possession player and he was given shielded deployments and decent line match-ups by coach Bob Hartley. Yet he produced way better than you’d expect him to given some amazing on-ice shooting and save percentages, and insanely strong shooting percentage in general. 

2014-15 EXPECTATIONS

Once again, Calgary has a trio of established centers in camp in the form of Mikael Backlund, Sean Monahan and Matt Stajan, so most likely Hudler will be slotted in on the wing once again.

Two key questions fuel expectations for Hudler for 2014-15: will he be as shielded, and will he be as lucky?

The luck question is simple: no, probably not. But Calgary’s goal-tending will be better in general due to Jonas Hiller joining the club, so potentially Hudler can maintain his PDO even with a decline in on-ice shooting percentage. And his career shooting percentage is 14.2%, so I wouldn’t expect a massive decline, as Hudler’s always been pretty opportunistic in the offensive zone.

In terms of shielding? Well, the 2014-15 wingers are likely to be David Jones, Mason Raymond, Curtis Glencross, Joe Colborne, Paul Byron, Brandon Bollig, Brian McGrattan, and probably some combination of Max Reinhart, Markus Granlund and Johnny Gaudreau. Who gets more shielding? Probably Bollig, McGrattan and Gaudreau. Everyone else probably gets rotational assignments based on performance.

In other words, unless Hartley completely changes how he coaches, I can’t see Hudler’s usage changing a heck of a lot next season. He’ll probably get shielded minutes and be the on-ice mentor for the newer pros, potentially for offensively-gifted guys like Gaudreau or Granlund. As such, his zone starts will be tilted quite a bit towards the offensive end and he’ll have more chances to be opportunistic with the puck.

And heck, with Mike Cammalleri – arguably Calgary’s best pure sniper – gone to New Jersey, Hudler (and his linemates) could potentially get even more sheltered by the coaching staff than they were last season. I’d expect Hudler’s numbers to be in the same general ball-park as last season, though a change in his puck luck could drag them down slightly.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Sometimes when you have an old car, you fix up a few bits here and there, and sell it while its still worth something.

    But sometimes, the car is working out well, and you’d to repace it if you sold it anyways, so it makes more sense to drive it until it don’t drive no more.

    Hudler would fit either role well enough IMO.

  • He’ll be on the first or second line. I see him playing with either Backlund and Gaudreau, Baertschi or Raymond or Monahan and Sven. Although he’ll probably play with Backlund and Raymond. People see Hudler’s numbers and see a huge jump, I think it was because the increase of ice time. I see 55-60 points

    • Burnward

      Agreed. I figure they run something like:

      Hudler-Backs-Jones

      Raymond-Stajan-GlenX

      Byron-Monahan-Colborne

      Gaudreau-Knight/Arnold-Bouma/Bollig

      Which is actually a pretty decent four line team now that I look at it. Solid depth too.

      • Burnward

        Oooooooh. Correction.

        Hudler-Backs-Jones

        Raymond-Stajan-GlenX

        Byron-Monahan-Colborne

        Gaudreau-Granlund/Knight/Arnold-Bouma/Bollig

        Granlund and Gaudreau could be very good together. Johnnny’s game is pretty similar to Mikael.

        • The Last Big Bear

          Glencross – Backlund – Hudler

          Sven – Monahan – Raymond

          Gaudreau – Stajan – Jones

          Bollig – (All the other prospects) – Colborne

          McGrattan

          Everyone else gets cycled through as injuries happen.

  • Burnward

    I have to say the support for Hudler in Ryan’s article appears tepid at best.

    IMO Hudler:
    – played reasonably well throughout the year on a lousy team,
    – led most scoring categories,
    – mentored and played with young players for large chunks of the season,and
    – maintained a positive (humorous & cheery) attitude and professionalism while surrounded by considerable turmoil and upheaval on a team in transition.

    In fact it’s a near miracle that Hudler’s performance/stats were as good as they were considering playing with 2 rookies for half the season.

    This year will be at least as challenging as last, potentially more so. If Hudler approaches 50+ points again this would be outstanding.
    If Hudler can get 50 points or close

  • PrairieStew

    Hudler is a good consistent player. He provides very good value for the dollar and as such would return considerable assets at the deadline especially with another year remaining on that deal.

    The jersey comments lead me to say this. In the 34 years I have been cheering for this team I have never owned a jersey. T -shirts, hats – mugs, but never a jersey. I have never liked the look or the colours – probably because I am still PO’ed that they didn’t have the balls to rename the franchise. It still irks me today that our team in Calgary is named after a fire in Atlanta. We have mountains, the Stampede, farming, ranching, local wildlife – all kinds of things the team could be called but it is the Flames. To say it is related to the oilfield is a huge stretch. At the time the party line was that the league wanted continuity. What a joke – the team was in Atlanta for 7 piddly years – and since the NHL has gone back there and it failed AGAIN.

    The WHA franchise was called the Cowboys and the junior team in the 70’s and 80’s was the Wranglers. Either one would be better. There was some argument that someone (ownership? The City ? the NHL?) didn’t want to have such a stereotype of Calgary as Cowboys – that it was too cartoonish or gimmicky. Imagine my disgust 12 years later when the league approves a team named after a kids movie, how’s that for cartoonish and gimmicky.

    If I had a billion dollars – I’d buy the team and change the name.

    rant over

  • The third jerseys are ok, but if you change the red to blue you have a Kraft Dinner box.

    Honestly, Hudler was flashy last season but he had a tendency to float. That said, scoring 50+ points on a… less-than-average Flames team is no mean feat. Playing with Monny and Colborne, I can see him do it again.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Hudler started strongly and I thought it would carry over for the whole season and I expected he would have hit closer to 65 or 70 points. However, like Bryon mentioned he did disappear for stretches at a time and would be invisible for some games. If he has another strong season the Flames could get some good return in value for him in a trade.

  • I expect Hudler’s PDO to fall based on chance alone, but I assume the team will play the crap out of him given the dearth of top-6 options. In addition, he’s one of the few assets they have left to flip at a deadline while the rebuild is on, so it would make sense to pump his tires as much as possible.

    He should lead the team in scoring this year.

  • Byron Bader

    Hudler is an incredibly consistent 50ish point guy. He’s had one year in the last number of years where he wasn’t in the 50s. I see no reason why he wouldn’t strike that again. He seems to often start off strong, disappear for stretches during the middle and emerge again in the last quarter.

  • prendrefeu

    I’m a fan of Hudler, I hope he performs well this year despite the belief that his numbers will fall.

    http://webmup.com/Bwwim/
    (for those of you who can view webm)

    I also don’t think those 3rd jerseys were as horrendous as many allege. With some minor changes to the front’s logo placement (and choice), they would have been classy.