- Nationality: SUI
- DOB: 1986/03/09
- 178 cm (5'10") / 84 kg (185 lbs)
- Position: RW/LW
- NHL Team: New Jersey Devils
- NHL Entry Draft: undrafted, signed by Detroit in 2012
- Contract: 2 years / $5 million until 2014/15
- 2013/14 Salary: $2.5 million
Here a quick overview of Damien Brunner's stats in the NHL. He has now played two seasons. His rookie season with Detroit and this season with New Jersey:
The 2012/13 NHL lockout proved to be the door opener to the NHL for Damien Brunner. After he signed a one-year, entry-level contract with the Red Wings on July 1st 2012, he bonded in Detroit with Henrik Zetterberg in the summer of 2012 very quickly and even more so when the NHL postponed their season and several NHL players as Brunner and Zetterberg left overseas to play in the European Leagues. They were first teammates for EV Zug in the National League A in Switzerland. Put together with winger Linus Omark they dominated the league and also found instant chemistry on the ice.
When the lockout ended Brunner went on to play with Zetterberg in a top-6 role at first, but found himself playing up and down the lineup as the season progressed. Overall Brunner had a great rookie year posting 12 goals and 14 assists in 44 games played. His playoff performance helped the Red Wings advance to Conference Semifinals with a 4-3 series win against the Anaheim Ducks. Next up was the Chicago Blawkhawks who ended the Red Wings run with a Brent Seabrook OT winner in Game 7.
On July 5th 2013 the Swiss native became a unrestricted free agent. After he turned down multiple offers from Detroit believed to be two- and three-year deals in the $2.5 million per year range he headed to the Devils camp on a professional tryout September 16th. A week later on September 24th he signed a two-year deal worth a total of $5 million with the New Jersey Devils, just in time to get ready for the start of the season.
Season Review 2013/14
Brunner should have known where he was going. The Devils have been known as a defense-first team and are arguably the most disciplined team in the NHL. Some NHL insiders were very surprised about the choice and they proved to be right. After potting 3 goals and 2 assists in his first 5 games for the Devils, Brunner went on a dry spell adding just 1 goal and 2 assists in the following 22 games.
|5 points in his first 5 games for the Devils: Damien Brunner|
Between October 29th and November 25th he didn't show up on the scoresheet for 12 consecutive games. His self-confidence was gone and questioned his role on the Devils team. Ever since his relationship with head coach Peter DeBoer hasn't been the best one. With a knee injury shortly before Christmas Brunner missed a month of hockey but came back strong with a 3-point performance against St. Loius.
But in the following 8 games until the Olympic break Brunner only registered 1 assist. His Olympic performance marked the next disappointment. Switzerland had high hopes in Brunner who put up 25 goals and 32 assists in 33 games for EV Zug in the Swiss National League A alongside Henrik Zetterberg in the 2012/13 lockout shortened season. Quite impressive stats. The Swiss hopeful played 4 games with nothing to show and his team lost its decisive qualification playoff game to Latvia 3-1.
|Brunner was a disappointment at the Winter Olympics in Sochi|
Back in the NHL Damien Brunner hoped he could provide the Devils with his offense in order to claim a playoff spot. His team failed to do so and came up short. Brunner was a healthy scratch alltogether five times this season and ended his first season with only 25 points in 60 games. Disappointing for a top-6 calibre player.
Damien Brunner still has a year left on his contract with the Devils. With the salary cap going up and his skills needed on other teams one has to think that New Jersey would be willing to part with the unhappy Swiss.
First Brunner might join the Swiss National Team for the IIHF World Championship in Belarus in May to refind his scoring touch on the larger surface. He also could showcase himself to other NHL teams who might be willing to deal for Brunner.
If nothing happens he will be stuck for another year with Peter DeBoer as his head coach in New Jersey as GM Lou Lamoriello has stated that his coach will be back next season.
|Will Brunner get his smile back next season?|
Damien Brunner regarded as the best Swiss forward ever to play the game is facing tough times. But several times in his career he has shown that he can overcome adversity and deliver.
Follow me on Twitter: @HNISwitzerland