Hudler's dance with the Russians; Blackhawks thinking cap

Still doing the Y! Sports meeting thing in LA, but a few thoughts on recent happenings ...

• Naturally, Chicago Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon is getting filleted over the team's rump-covering after its RFA snafu, tying it into evaluation of the Hawks' free-agency decisions last week. It's fair to say that spending to the cap leaves little margin for error; especially the kind of lazy clerical mistake that Tallon was alleged to have made. But if anything, the whole ordeal expedited the kind of tough decisions the Hawks were going to make anyway by next summer.

With winger Kris Versteeg signing a three-year deal worth more than $9 million, Tim Sassone believes changes are on the way:

It's looking more and more that a trade will need to be made to move out some salary, possibly Versteeg or Cam Barker or even Patrick Sharp.

Versteeg was the final restricted free agent the Hawks planned to sign. It's likely the Hawks had to pay Versteeg and Barker more than they hoped because of the grievance filed against them by the NHL Players Association for being late with their qualifying contract offers to their RFAs.

Windy City Hockey also had thoughts on the impending salary dump:

The bad news is that these hefty raises only reinforce the obvious fact that we need to shed salary. Big Buff should be traded. We have a number of guys in the system who can do what he does. I think Troy Brouwer can easily take the place of Byfuglien. Also, don't forget that Beech and Aliu are right around the corner. I'd say they are about a year away from making it to the big show. The Hawks also have to find a way to get rid of Sopel, even if it means putting him on waivers / buying him out. We NEED to have the money to sign Toews, Keith, and Kane (in that order).

Indeed. They're not losing any of those three.

• The Jiri Hudler/KHL situation with the Detroit Red Wings is a bit of a head-scratcher:

According to, restricted free agent forward Jiri Hudler has agreed to a contract with Dynamo Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League. Reports out of the Czech Republic indicate that it's a two-year deal, while TSN's sister station in Quebec RDS says it's a one-year, $2 million contract.

Kukla's Korner has a translated interview with Hudler that sheds light on his decision:

In Detroit there is wasn't place for me and I didn't want to go to another club. So i didn't ask for a trade. Then came Dynamo with their offer.

I started thinking about it and decided to go to Russia. It was tough but this is not a question of life or death. It is only hockey.

Is this just a ploy, as the Detroit Free Press asks? Bruce MacLeod of Red Wings Corner isn't surprised by the move. George James Malik of Snapshots has this take as well:

Whether there's an "out clause," he's doing this as a negotiating ploy, or whether Hudler's really gone remains to be seen. The Russian press will gush like a teenage girl over a Jonas Brother about this over the next few days, but somewhere along the way, the truth will come out. I can at least say that this came as a surprise to the Wings--but only Steve Yzerman and capologist Ryan Martin were in the stands at prospect camp today. Jim Nill and Ken Holland were absent.

Check Snapshots for updates. Malik will have them.

• Finally, Saku Koivu's move to the Anaheim Ducks for one-year and $3.25 million is just a perfect move for the player and the team. He immediately establishes a second line that can roll with the first one offensively, and he remains a face-off ace on a team that could use one.

Better fit for Koivu in Anaheim than in Minnesota. Hey, at the very least, Teemu's smilin'.

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