Babcock Adds to Brunner Hype
With the news of the Detroit Red Wings agreeing to terms with Swiss forward Damien Brunner, head coach Mike Babcock had some very interesting things to say in the media regarding Brunner's role next season.
Babcock sees Brunner as a top six forward right now and has him pencilled in on the top two lines.
Here are some quotes from Babcock:
“Can he adjust and play the North American game? We’re going to give him every opportunity. He’ll be a top-six forward to start with us and see where he goes with us.''
“I know a lot about him because I went to the World Championships (in May) and watched him play. The thing for us is he’s high, high paced, he scores, looks like he has tons of skill."
“Loves to score goals. Led the Swiss league (in points) as a Swiss player; I think that’s the first time that’s been done in a long, long time. So good for us.”
“Huds can play in traffic and handle the puck and make plays. This guy (Brunner) is a shooter and a skater.”
“I went to the World Championship and watched this guy practice every day, I watched him play. I stood in the hallway and let him walk by me. Now, does that mean he’s any good? We think he is. Have I been wrong before? Many times."
“I encouraged Ken (general manager Holland) to come. Ken looked at him and he liked him, too, so we put our best foot forward and we think he’s a good fit. Our top six, (Johan) Franzen and (Pavel) Datsyuk and (Henrik) Zetterberg and Fil (Valtteri Filppula) are all left-hand shots. (Brunner) is a right-hand shot who plays fast.”
“The way I look at it is that you have to make decisions and try to get better. We’ve been able to encourage the kid to join us. He could have gone anywhere he wanted, he chose to be a Red Wing.”
It should be noted that the Red Wings have taken low risks like this that have not panned out. Ville Leino and Fabian Brunnstrom didn't meet expectations. It's strange that Babcock has placed such a high pressure margin on Brunner. For a 26 year old at the top of his game to just make a jump to the NHL is a tough thing to do. Hopefully, like Babcock says, you throw him in and you hope he succeeds. Playing with Datsyuk and Zetterberg sure does help. This basically spells the end for Jiri Hudler, with Brunner, Nyquist and Tatar waiting to play, and Patrick Eaves coming back from injury.
This creates sort of a log jam up front for the Red Wings. Considering they need a top line winger and possibly a rugged fourth line energy player, the Wings have too many bodies. Assuming Jiri Hudler and Tomas Holmstrom are done, here are what the lines look like (from what Babcock says):
ZETTERBERG - DATSYUK - _________
FRANZEN - FILPPULA - BRUNNER
CLEARY - HELM - BERTUZZI
MILLER - ABDELKADER - EAVES
So what happens to that fourth line energy guy? How about Tatar, Nyquist, Murask and Emmerton? Babcock must know something we don't. Perhaps a trade is in the works. Yeah, right.