Veteran forward Jiri Hudler fell way short of fantasy expectations last season, but joining the League's top offense could put him right back on the map.
The Dallas Stars signed Hudler to a one-year contract Wednesday, giving the 32-year-old a fresh start with one of the most dangerous top-six forward groups in the League. General manager Jim Nill has indicated Hudler should fit into their top six and is a good addition to their power play, according to the Stars website. Dallas ranked first in goals per game (3.23) and fourth in power-play efficiency (22.1) last season.
Video: FLA@NYR: Hudler smacks a rebound past Lundqvist
Hudler was tri-eligible (C/LW/RW) in Yahoo but a major disappointment for the Calgary Flames, finishing 247th in its performance-based rankings after being drafted 89th on average. He got off to a slow start, was moved off the top line, dealt with injury (10 games missed) and was traded to the Florida Panthers on Feb. 27. He played mostly on Florida's third line (11 points in 19 regular-season games) after the trade and had no goals and one assist in six Stanley Cup Playoff games.
But this move could completely revitalize Hudler, who immediately rejoins the top 200 fantasy conversation with the chance to flank either top-10 overall assets Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin on the first line or another 60-point regular in Jason Spezza on the second. Hudler was a fixture alongside young Flames forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan two seasons ago, finishing tied for eighth in the NHL in scoring with 76 points in 78 games.
He is a pass-first player and has low shots on goal (career-high 158 in 2014-15) and penalty minute totals (239 PIM in 676 games), but his plus-minus (plus-17) and power-play point (16) totals rounded out his profile well in the breakout campaign. Hudler regressed to 46 points, 10 on the power play, with a minus-1 and 109 SOG in 72 games with the Flames and Panthers last season.
Video: BOS@FLA: Huberdeau sets up Hudler for one-timer
That said, Hudler can easily jump back up to 55-60 points in a role on the first or second line at even strength and second power-play unit. Dallas' top man-advantage unit has consisted of Benn, Seguin, Spezza, Patrick Sharp and high-scoring defenseman John Klingberg, but coach Lindy Ruff could tweak the Stars' first two groups for added depth after the addition of Hudler.
Benn, who is recovering from offseason core muscle surgery, will not play for Team Canada in the World Cup of Hockey 2016, but is expected to be ready for training camp and 100 percent to start the regular season. Fantasy owners should get the opportunity to see Hudler mesh with Benn and/or Spezza in training camp. Seguin, who is recovering from an Achilles injury, is expected to compete in the World Cup for Team Canada.