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Wings cautiously optimistic about Swiss star

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Damien Brunner has compiled 190 points in 167 games in Switzerland's top league. (Photo by Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH, Penn. – Like it is with any unknown, the jury is still out on Swiss star Damien Brunner, who will likely sign a free agent contract with the Red Wings once he’s eligible to do so after July 1.

Brunner is best described as a speedy slick offensive forward whose a capable passer, has a lightning quick shot, and the ability to finish around the net. But Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill cautions against getting too high on an unproven commodity.

“There are some things that concern me,” said Nill, who is in Pittsburgh for the 50th annual NHL draft this weekend at Consol Energy Center. “But you never know he might be the next superstar.”

While it might be a gamble to take a flyer on a 26-year-old who doesn’t have NHL experience, the risk for the Red Wings is relatively low especially since every team can use depth.

Brunner has played four seasons for EV Zug in Switzerland’s National League A. He led the Doug Shedden coached club last season with 24 goals and 36 assists. Shedden played for the Red Wings from 1985-87.

In four seasons, Brunner has produced 78 goals and 112 assists in 167 games. Last October, in an exhibition game against the New York Rangers, Brunner collected a goal and an assist in an 8-4 win played in Zug, Switzerland.

Brunner has played in two IIHF World Championships, including last month’s tournament in Finland. He led the Swiss team with seven points in seven games.

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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