WHY IS JIRI HUDLER STILL AVAILABLE? | Oilersnetwork.com - Edmonton Oilers News and Rumours


Inexplicably, Jiri Hudler doesn't have a contract. A veteran offensive forward who is a reliable scorer, but had one under-average year hasn't come to terms with an NHL team, yet everyone seems to be talking about how "their team" should sign him. So if everyone think's he's a good option, why is Hudler still out there?

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Hudler's Value

For years, Hudler has been the kind of forward who will bring you points. He has 417 points in 676 career games and he scored 31 goals and 75 points in 76 games in 2014-15. Even in a poor follow up performance had 46 points in 72 games in 2015-16 which would have put him well up there in terms of Oilers offensive production. He's easily a top-six forward on almost any NHL roster and with the Oilers looking for a little more depth on right-wing, he's the kind of player that makes a lot of sense. There aren't any better options still out there in free agency.

Hudler is a good 5-on-5 scorer and individual shooter. Regardless of who he plays with, he's effective in the offensive zone and creates offense for any team he plays for. His history shows that when he plays with more talented players, he's even more effective. In Edmonton, he'd most likely get time with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Benoit Pouliot.

The Hold-Up

Normally, if a free agent goes this far into the summer without signing, there's real concern over his overall game. In this case, I think it's less about production and more about money and/or term. Hudler wants multi-years and better money than a typical free agent value deal. There could potentially be something to the concern over his poor season last year and even more concern that his career is on a decline. Regardless, Hudler has to be looking to cash in on what could be his last major contract in the NHL. This makes Edmonton an unrealistic option.

Hudler isn't the type of player Edmonton will overpay for. Not with players in the system that will be a better fit in two to three years. He'd clearly be a nice addition and the Oilers could use the depth, but Hudler will end up with a team willing to give more than a single season and a team willing to pay a bit more of a premium.

Where Hudler Ends Up

Hudler and Edmonton don't seem to be a logical pairing. Edmonton won't go multiple years on the forward and Hudler likely won't take a one-year contract. Montreal, Vancouver and Chicago may be the destinations with the best shot. It's too bad too because Hudler could have had a bounce-back season in Edmonton and earned a pretty big payday on his next go-round.

But, who cares what I think right? For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.

Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.

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