With the NHL lockout over, NHL players that were playing overseas are flooding back to North America in anticipation of NHL training camp starting in a few days. That includes a few Detroit Red Wings players.
Henrik Zetterberg, Valterri Filppula, Pavel Datsyuk, Drew Miller, Jan Mursak, Damien Brunner, Jakub Kindl and Cory Emmerton were some of the Detroit players that played in Europe while the lockout was in progress, and almost all of them have returned to Detroit.
Datsyuk is staying in the KHL until he and his agent know when training camp is starting, and the status of Damien Brunner is unknown. He is currently playing for Zug in the Swiss league, but will likely end up in training camp in Detroit.
Something has got to give. The Detroit Red Wings made four signings today, two of which are forwards. This is a strange predicament the Red Wings are in. They have $17 million left in cap space and are still in on the Zach Parise sweepstakes.
Parise will likely make a decision by tomorrow, but with Jiri Hudler out of the picture, the Red Wings still need a top line winger, which might come in the form of Parise or Alex Semin (or possibly Hudler, although unlikely).
The Jordin Tootoo and Mikael Samuelsson signings give Detroit 16 forwards under contract, not including Justin Abdelkader, who is an RFA, or Tomas Holmstrom, who is UFA.
In a league where you usually dress 12 forwards a game, 16 is too many. Factor in a spot for Abdelkader and a Parise type player, and that's 18 forward spots. What is Ken Holland going to do?
The Detroit Red Wings are finished making free agent signings today, locking up four players.
Early in the day, they agreed to terms with goalie Jonas Gustavsson to back up Jimmy Howard. Next came the expected announcement of inking Swiss forward Damien Brunner to a one year, two way deal.
The head scratchers came when the Wings brought back Mikael Samuelsson, who was on the 2008 Stanley Cup Champion team. After stints with the Vancouver Canucks and Florida Panthers, Samuelsson is back in Hockeytown. He is a right handed shot that can play the powerplay.
With the news of the Detroit Red Wings agreeing to terms with Swiss forward Damien Brunner, head coach Mike Babcock had some very interesting things to say in the media regarding Brunner's role next season.
Babcock sees Brunner as a top six forward right now and has him pencilled in on the top two lines.
Here are some quotes from Babcock:
“Can he adjust and play the North American game? We’re going to give him every opportunity. He’ll be a top-six forward to start with us and see where he goes with us.''
“I know a lot about him because I went to the World Championships (in May) and watched him play. The thing for us is he’s high, high paced, he scores, looks like he has tons of skill."
The Detrot Red Wings dipped into the free agent market a little bit early, reportedly agreeing to terms with Swiss League scoring star Damien Brunner.
Brunner is a 26-year old, right handed forward played for Zug the past four years. He is very skilled and can score points, as evident in his Swiss League stats, where he has scored over a point per game in the past three seasons.
The Red Wings haven't officially signed him because it isn't July 1st yet, but the terms of the deal have been agreed on and reports suggest it is a one year, two-way contract. This is very low risk, high reward for the Red Wings. If Brunner shapes out to be Jiri Hudler's cheaper replacement; excellent. He's faster than Hudler and shoots right on a team full of lefties. If Brunner can't make the cut in the NHL, he can be sent to Grand Rapids without having to clear waivers.