Damien Brunner broke into the NHL in 2012-13 season and had a productive year with the Detroit Red Wings. He started the year strong but waned mid-season. He picked it up in the play-offs impressing fans with a Game 4 overtime winner against the Anaheim Ducks in the first round. He went on to turn in an excellent play-off performance scoring 5 goals in 14 games.
So why isn’t Brunner a Detroit Red Wing? It is not because the Red Wings didn’t want him. Brunner turned down a contract offer from the Red Wings for a two or three-year deal in favor of testing the free agent market, prompting GM Ken Holland to tell MLive that Brunner was moving on. According to reports, Brunner is targeting a 4 to 5 year contract worth near $5 million a season. Reportedly, the Red Wings offer wasn’t far off in dollars but missed the mark on the number of years.
Free Agency hasn’t been kind to Damien Brunner. He has been rumored to be signing with several teams but each team went in a different direction. The most recent interest was from the New Jersey Devils who were looking add a forward in response to the sudden retirement of Ilya Kovalchuk. Most agreed the Brunner would be a good fit for the Devils who desperately needed scoring help. But yesterday The Devils signed Jaromir Jagr to a one-year deal for $2 million plus bonuses.
So with free agency is winding down and hockey training camps will be starting soon, does Damien Brunner still have a chance to play with the Red Wings? As the season gets closer, chances of Brunner returning to the Wings wanes. Ken Holland has been busy filling up his roster and making a big splash in free agency by signing forwards Daniel Alfredsson and Steven Weiss. If Brunner is going to wait until the Red Wings meet his contract demands, he will be waiting a long time. Brunner’s quest for a big pay-day may cost the 27-year-old forward a season in the NHL.