Hudler, a restricted free agent who had filed for NHL salary arbitration, agreed to a two-year, tax-free deal with Moscow Dynamo. Reports indicate it is worth anywhere from $3 million to $5 million annually. The contract was filed and registered with the Russian league Thursday.
"I was told by Petr Svoboda [Hudler's agent] that it's for significant dollars," Detroit general manager Ken Holland told ESPN.com. "The last time I spoke to Petr was on Monday. I gave him a number and I said, 'You can choose a three-year term, a four-year term or a five-year term.' I think Petr thought the offer was fair."
But not as much money as what Dynamo offered. To say the Wings were totally surprised is not accurate. Holland said he had heard in talks with Svoboda that Russia was a possibility.
"My experience is that the Swedes and the Finns aren't nearly as interested or pursued to go play in the Russian league as the Russians and the Czechs are," Holland said. "We've had Czech and Russian players, and the agent will often tell me there are opportunities in the Russian league. Every time Petr Svoboda and I talked about a contract for Jiri, I also heard that.
"So am I surprised? I mean, I hear it in every negotiation. Alexander Radulov [of Nashville] went over to play in Russia. We had Danny Markov we tried to sign and he went to play in the Russian league. So it's not like this is the first time it's happened. Nothing surprises me."
Holland said the Wings will proceed with the arbitrating hearing anyway.
"And he's going to have a contract that he's going to have to honor when he comes back," Holland said. "If he ever does come back."
Hudler, who made $1.15 million this past season, had 23 goals and 57 points, both career highs.
Pierre LeBrun covers the NHL for ESPN.com.