I would like to use this picture as wallpaper. Not computer wallpaper, but literally on the walls of my home.
I think it would be fair to say that most Flames fans were a little unsure of what the Flames were getting when Jay Feaster inked former Red Wing Jiri Hudler to a four-year deal in 2012. However, after last season, I would think that many have forgotten any ambivalence felt towards him.
However, in the cold light of summer, what should we expect from the Flames left-winger who will turn 32 this season? Let’s reflect and project!
When the Flames signed Hudler in the Summer of 2012, there were some mixed reactions about how useful a player he would be given the state of the Flames in 2012. I looked over some of the reactions and it is truly bizarre the transformation that the Flames have undergone in a relatively short period. This is from Kent’s breakdown of the Hudler signing:
Man, that feels like a long, long time ago doesn’t it?
Since signing with the Flames, Hudler has moved from an auxiliary scoring winger to leading points guy and wingman to the stars. In fact, over the past three seasons, Hudler has led the Flames in points and performed at a top-40 pace among league scorers.
I started off by including some of Hudler’s teammates when he joined the Flames and then looked at some of his closer comparables in terms of league scoring (by the way, check out Blake Wheeler). You should check out that list, it is interesting to see Hudler’s production over the course of the last three seasons and see the peer group that he’s situated within. Certainly, it could be said that he has earned his four year, $16 million contract from the summer of 2012.
Hudler has spent a great deal of his time in Calgary playing with very young players and has gained a reputation as a solid influence on his pupils. At 31 years old, this past season was unequivocally Hudler’s best, smashing career highs in goals with 31 and points with 76, two points shy of a PPG average. The reason for Hudler’s success was the formation of one of the most successful Flames lines in recent memory:
— Neato Gaston (@bookofloob) March 7, 2015
I had many to choose from, this one just felt best though.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM HIM THIS SEASON?
As you can see from this chart, science proves that Jiri Hudler will continue to grow his points pace at an exponential rate until his seven points-per-game season at age 63. It’s a fact.
However, if science fails us, Hudler’s production will dip or plateau soon and questions I’m sure Flames fans are curious about are: how sustainable was Hudler’s last season? Should 65+ points be expected of Hudler as long as he’s playing with Gaudreau and Monahan? Can Jiri Hudler be my uncle?
Well, it’s hard to say how long Hudreanahan will stay together, but it is important to note that the majority of Hudler’s successes last season came at even strength. In fact, Hudler was the NHL’s most prolific even-strength scorer last season:
So, as you may have guesses, the big line was extremely successful at generating pucks towards the net and Hudler was one of the most successful even-strength fowards in the NHL last season. If the Flames are going to want a prayer of repeating their playoff success last season, they will need a strong season from this top-line and Hudler is a large part of that.
The good news is, Hudler is a reliable point producer and has been throughout his career and is heading into a contract year. The last time Hudler was in a contract year, he scored a then career high in goals for the Red Wings with 25.
I suppose it boils down to: should Flames fans expect 70+pts from him this season? Probably not. But if Hudler can play more than 65 games, it seems likely that he’ll approach the 20 goal mark and the 60 point mark. I think most Flames fans would be happy with that.