FN Mailbag – January 24, 2016


Jiri Hudler has suddenly become an important topic amongst Flames fans. After scoring the most 5on5 points in the league last year he has completely fallen off a cliff this year, to the degree that the coach doesn’t seem to know where to put him in the lineup. 

Heading into the season the question surrounding Hulder was whether the club could afford to re-sign him or if they’d move him for a sizeable return at the deadline. Now, the question is whether they can get anything for him at all.

The situation is reminiscent of Mike Cammalleri’s final days as a Calgary Flame. With the organization staring a full tear down and rebuild in the face, Mike Cammalleri seemed like the last, best veteran asset in the cupboard in the wake of the Iginla and Bouwmeester selloffs.

Unfortunately, Cammalleri struggled through a concussion and was completely ineffective in the weeks leading up to the deadline. As a result, Burke only received lowball offers for the winger (third rounder or below) and the taciturn interim GM decided he’d rather keep the player than give him up for a nominal return (a decision I disagreed with). 

Ironically, Cammalleri’s game completely turned around after the deadline. He scored 13 goals and 24 points in the final 20 games, meaning he likely would have been one of the best deadline rentals of the season had the Flames traded him.

There’s no saying whether that’s what will happen with Hudler this year. All we know is he still has time to turn the ship around. Here’s hoping he does before the deadline.

If he keeps up this level play, then Hudler’s asking price is likely to take a big dive in the off-season. The question is if the Flames would even want him anymore.

Chances are, the answer is “no”. The coach doesn’t seem to have much time for the player at this point and given how Hudler has played it’s hard to blame him. The paradox here is that Hudler’s giant step back is the only reason he’d be affordable enough for the Flames to re-sign; but, of course, the step back means the team won’t have interest in re-signing him.

At this point, getting anything would be satisfactory. Unfortunately the time to move him was obviously this past off-season, but it’s easy to make that call now in hindsight. The club probably could have commanded a high level prospect or draft pick, but now you’re probably looking at a mid-round pick at best.

Seeing as the correlation of receiving the award and him suddenly being terrible is nearly perfect, I think we can safely say “all of it”.

I don’t know. Will it get Hudler back to 2014-15 form? If so, then maybe.

We have to keep in mind that coaches are often working with more information than we’re privy to. Sometimes lineup and ice time decisions are made based off other factors besides on-ice performance.

That said, this year I think Hartley is just struggling to manage the over abundance of bottom-six options available to him. I don’t think he’s making the optimal choice in frequently choosing to sit Jooris over guys like Colborne and Bollig, but we’re talking about players on the margins that aren’t going to meaningfully impact the game most nights.

I’m confident, or at least hopeful, that either injury or trade will make enough room to get Jooris back into the lineup on a permanent basis.

I don’t know we can say that for certain right now. Jones is the kind of guy who may not garner much interest at the deadline and Treliving may be tempted to retain him on a short, cheap deal due to the club’s lacklustre RW depth.

  • FlamesFan1489

    I don’t get the logic behind blaming the Lady Byng win on Hudler’s downfall? Care to explain Kent?

    I do agree with you that trading Hudler (as well as Wideman) in the offseason would have been the smart move at this point, but hindsight is 20/20 on the Hudler situation. At the time his play elevated Johnny and Monny’s play and confidence and he had consistently been at worst, a 2nd line RW in his time here. His fall to skilled 3rd line winger is pretty disappointing to say the least but I don’t get how winning a trophy does that?

  • Parallex

    I was thinking about Jones the other day… he’s obviously not coming back on his current ticket but I was thinking that a 1 or 2 year deal in the 1.8M range wouldn’t be bad (Basically Winnick money). We have such weak depth on the right side (even assuming that we get Laine/Puljujärvi/Nylander in the draft).

    • ChinookArchYYC

      I agree, RW is already going to be difficult to address and a 2 year deal for Jones gives Treliving a placeholder, until a younger better asset can take a job.

      At this point, I’ve pretty much resigned myself into the belief that Hudler will not provide a good return, if any.

      • piscera.infada

        At this point, I’ve pretty much resigned myself into the believe that Hudler will not provide a good return, if any.

        Agreed. If there’s any deal out there for Hudler (low pick, whatever), I do think Treliving will take it though, as opposed to the Cammi situation a few year ago. He consistently talks about picks being currency, and if last year is any indication, he has no issues moving around in the draft order. That’s a very positive development. I’ve always thought having a lot of picks and moving around is the best draft-day strategy–go get who you want, so you don’t have to fall back on who’s there.

  • I don’t know that I’d agree that Jooris doesn’t make a meaningful difference. He’s a decent possession driver and is this team’s best penalty kill option.

    He’s not a top 6 guy to me, but a very useful player, especially in place of the big three in the mystifyingly still in the lineup core of Bollig, Colborne and Bouma (probably Granlund and Raymond too)

  • ClayBort

    I wouldn’t get your hopes up that the Flames extend or sign a single free agent currently in the NHL whose name doesn’t rhyme with Don Bonoflan or Ronny Boodrow.

    • nikkomsgb

      Cuts both ways though. If I am not mistaken, we have the lowest personal income tax of all the Canadian teams (Oilers too of course). Couple that with deflationary pressures here, and getting paid in $USD…and maybe Calgary is a nice place to get ahead.

      We also have to consider the fact that the only teams with no state income tax are Dallas, Florida, Tampa and Nashville…and not everyone can go there.

      Finally I can’t speak to the Flames financial situation, but it isn’t going to be dire. Ownership has always been wiling to spend, and if there is a contract worth shelling out on, history says they’ll do it.

      A little glass half full point of view. Now to see who will be available come July 1st.

  • beloch

    Some thoughts on Hudler:

    • He’s on pace for 48 points (if he played a full 82 games). A single hot streak could easily boost his total above his first season with the Flames.
    • Last year he had 76 points, but he also consistently had choice deployment on the top line. He’s bounced around several lines this season, so it’s a tad nuts to blame him for not producing at the same rate as last season.
    • Some of Hudler’s decline is also luck. His NHL career average sh% is 14.8%. Last season it was 19.6% and this season it’s plummeted to just 10.2%. Some of that is probably due to receiving less “gaudreau effect” this season, but that’s not enough to halve his sh%.

    Summing up, Hudler is still a 40-50 point player, and that’s in spite of being unlucky this season. That means he’s worth pretty close to what he was when the Flames signed him as a UFA. Yes, he’s a little older, but he also has a 76 point season under his belt, demonstrating he can be more than a second line winger under the right circumstances. I get that we’re all disappointed he hasn’t been able to repeat what he did last season, but he’s far from worthless. Treliving should be able to get a decent return for him.

    • flamesburn89

      I agree. The situation may not be ideal this time around, but Treliving managed to get a truly great haul for GlenX last year. I fully expect him to be able to nab at least a third rounder for Jiri Hudler. Who knows, trading Hudler to an Eastern Conference team starved for goals could bring a sizeable return (looking at you Montreal).