With the current lockout situation not showing any signs of improvement, the Detroit Red Wings strong offseason acquisition Damien Brunner might just be staying put in Switzerland. Brunner’s former Swiss club, EV Zug, only agreed to allow him leave in the final year of his contract because he would be playing in the NHL. Now that Brunner and other Red Wings would simply be placed on AHL teams, that agreement is likely to dissolve.
The hope for the Red Wings is that if and when the season does begin again in North America this fall or winter, Brunner will have no problems leaving Zug and coming back to Detroit. Additionally, even though the AHL affiliate of the Wings, the Grand Rapids Griffins, may be known for developing solid NHL talent over the years, a high-profile team in Switzerland like Zug may be just as helpful for the 26-year-old.
One annoyance with this solution, however, is that Brunner still has yet to show his full skill set on a North American ice rink. Many around the world of hockey will continuously praise the young right-handers speed and shooting ability on a wider piece of ice, but what happens when that extra room is not available anymore? What happens when the game becomes more physical in North America? These thoughts lend an argument to the idea that Brunner could use the lockout time in the AHL to adjust to life in North America before hitting the big stage in Hockeytown.
No matter where he ends up, it is hoped that Brunner simply stays in shape and keeps focused on his upcoming tenure with the Red Wings. As a true “x-factor” for the most successful hockey franchise in the USA, a lot will be expected of him once the season gets underway.