The Detroit Red Wings have had some tough luck with free agents in the past year. They missed out on the top two free agents on the market last summer, along with the top rookie in Justin Schultz. One of their only meaningful additions in free agency in the summer of 2012 was the signing of Damien Brunner.
Brunner signed a one-year contract with the Wings, his first in the NHL. Prior to making the jump over to the United States, Brunner had enjoyed success in the Swiss league. Several teams had actually courted him before he agreed to a deal with the Red Wings.
With the Wings this year, Brunner has had varying levels of success. He scored a goal in his third game with the Red Wings and promptly went on a six-game point streak. He flashed some serious hands with some dazzling shootout goals as well.
Throughout the season, though, we’ve seen Brunner sort of fade. He had only five points in the entire month of March and has only four so far in April, two of them coming in one day. But some stretches of quiet are to be expected from a first year player, even if he is 27. His totals on the season are solid though, with 25 points, including 13 goals.
The question about whether or not the Red Wings should re-sign Brunner this summer is a relatively easy one to answer. He’s an unrestricted free agent, but it’s difficult to see them letting him walk. He’s demonstrated some serious skill with the puck that is really absent on this roster overall, with the obvious exception of a few players.
Of course, one never knows what can happen during contract talks. The Wings could try and keep his years and salary low, while Brunner could be expecting big money based off of the potential he’s shown this year. It’s hard to see them letting him go, but that doesn’t make it impossible.