Welcome to another edition of NHL Rumours brought to you by the Last Word on Hockey staff. Even though the NHL’s paused due to COVID-19, our team is still pushing out daily content, including this series. As often as possible, we publish articles breaking down some of the biggest rumours from around the league, offering our perspective and analysis. Today, our focus turns toward the Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, and Minnesota Wild.
Rumour: Per an article in the French-language publication La Presse, Guillaume Lefrançois reports that Habs winger Charles Hudon has received offers from the Russian KHL and the Swiss NLA.
Analysis: The City of Montreal is ready to move on from Charles Hudon, and it looks like Hudon may be ready to move on from the NHL entirely. The 25-year-old was picked in the 5th round of the 2012 Draft but became one of Montreal’s more promising prospects after a couple of strong showings in the AHL. However, he only put one full season together in Montreal, that being the 2017-18 season. He potted ten goals and hit the 30-point mark in 72 games. Since that season, he hasn’t played in the majority of his team’s 82 games and he’s only managed four goals and seven points. While Hudon still does show flashes of offensive skill, his likelihood of making an impact in a Habs uniform is almost zero.
However, Hudon is the type of player who generally excels in Europe. After failing to put it together in the big leagues after a promising junior and minor league career, players tend to figure it out on European ice. Hudon would probably become one of the NLA’s superstars, while he would serve a great supporting role on a higher-end KHL team. The opportunities for Hudon’s hockey career are still there, just not in the National Hockey League, especially Montreal.
Detroit Red Wings
Rumour: In a look at the 2020-21 season in Hockeytown, Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press speculates that forward Justin Abdelkader may be demoted to Grand Rapids of the AHL next year.
— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) April 5, 2020
Analysis: Abdelkader’s performance over the past seasons certainly has a lot of Red Wings fans asking ‘what happened to this guy?’. After a couple of 40+ point seasons in the mid-2010s, many Red Wing fans viewed Abdelkader as a key leader on the club and a solid depth piece for the future. However, Abdelkader’s play fell off quickly after that, and it appears as now he doesn’t even belong in the NHL.
Abdelkader’s performance this season has been nothing short of terrible, as he only has three assists in 49 games. He’s tied on the team in points with goalie Jonathan Bernier. To make matters worse, Abdelkader counts for more than $4 million against the cap for multiple seasons after this. It’s a nightmare situation for Detroit inherited by general manager Steve Yzerman.
The contract is nearly untradeable, and Yzerman so far hasn’t put any effort into finding a trade partner. An AHL demotion truly seems like the best option for both player and the team at this point. Abdelkader may rediscover some of his game playing against easier opponents.
Rumour: In a weekly mailbag put together by Michael Russo of The Athletic, he mentions that the Wild are making every effort to sign prospect Kirill Kaprizov as soon as possible after the cancellation of the KHL season.
Analysis: Kaprizov was originally a fifth-round pick of the Wild in 2015. He’s starting to look like an absolute gem for Minnesota, widely viewed as the future of the franchise. There’s been a lot of talk about him crossing the Atlantic this summer. However, those talks weren’t going to happen for a while since the KHL season was ongoing.
But, after netting 62 points in 57 games this season, Kaprizov may sign with the team as early as this month since the KHL season has been cancelled. This pays no immediate benefit to Minnesota since he’s ineligible to play this season. However, it does ensure that Kaprizov can’t change his mind and stay in Russia next season.
Mediocrity’s been the name of the game in Minnesota for a long time. They desperately need this kid to become the new face of the franchise and lead them back in the direction of playoff success. Sooner is better, and the franchise realizes that.
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