The Jiri Hudler of 2015-16 has not been the Jiri Hudler of 2014-15. Not even close.
It could be for a variety of reasons. It could be regression from his career year last season, it could be him resting on his laurels, it could be because he’s been playing through injury. It could be all of those things, or none of them.
Though the injury concern looks like a likely possibility. Maybe not for the entire season, but for most recently, definitely. Hudler was the only player missing from practice, and he has been ruled out for tomorrow’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Hudler played just 5:26 against the Colorado Avalanche before leaving the game with an undisclosed injury. He may have been benched during that game, but now, it’s looking far more likely he simply wasn’t able to play through whatever is ailing him.
It’s unclear when Hudler suffered this injury. He has looked ineffective for a while, but he did play 15:09 against the Los Angeles Kings, so it may not have occurred until the Avalanche game.
Hearing Jiri Hudler will have MRI today to see the actual nature of his lower body injury. Expected to keep him out Tues vs TB #Flames
— Roger Millions (@RogMillions) January 4, 2016
Hopefully he isn’t out long, because the trade deadline is coming up in fewer than two months, and Hudler is a prime target to be traded. As he’s an upcoming unrestricted free agent and unlikely to be re-signed for cheap, this is probably his last season as a Flame, and to not be able to recoup anything for him would be extremely unfortunate, to put it lightly.
The only thing we really know for certain is he will not be in the lineup for the Flames’ next game, and Mason Raymond will take his place. That’s the only change.
The Flames can’t call anybody up unless Hudler goes on the injury reserve, and as it’s not yet known how serious his ailment is, that won’t be happening. They don’t need to, though; between Raymond and Brandon Bollig, they have enough extra forwards to carry them through this without potentially subjecting a kid to the press box or limited minutes.