Jiri Hudler definitely seems to have a higher comfort level in his second season with the Calgary Flames. The long-time former member of the Detroit Red Wings produced 27 points in 42 games last year in his first season with the Flames. So far in the 2013-14 NHL campaign, Hudler has been much more productive and has emerged as a real leader on the team. He sits just outside the league’s top-10 in scoring with 13 points. Hudler has five goals and eight assists in 11 contests and has been a noticeable presence in nearly every single game.
Hudler’s heightened offensive numbers have been key for the Flames, especially when you factor in a slow start for Curtis Glencross along with Mike Cammalleri and Matt Stajan missing several games due to injuries. He’s been a stabilizing force in a lineup that features plenty of young talent including rookie Sean Monahan. Hudler’s combination of offensive skills, work ethic and attention to defensive responsibility is a good example for the likes of Monahan and fellow youngster Sven Baertschi to follow. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Hudler has been a two-time 20 goal scorer in the league and won a Stanley Cup with the Wings in the 2007-08 season. He has plenty of experience even though he won’t turn 30 until January.
Hudler’s most-recent efforts helped to get the Flames’ homestand off to a positive start against the Washington Capitals. It was a badly needed victory after the team had gone just 1-4 on a difficult five-game road trip. Their 5-4-2 record is likely better than most had expected but still has them trailing a number of teams in an extremely strong Pacific division.
While Monahan has rightly been receiving plenty of early season praise for his offensive exploits, Hudler has certainly being doing his best to keep the Flames competitive on a nightly basis. It seems that after all those seasons in Motown, the transition to life with the Flames is becoming a better and better fit.
Rick LaFitte is an NHL Writer for Rant Sports