When the Wings first signed Brunner, some media people took to derisively calling him "Fabian Brunner", referencing Dallas (and later Detroit) player Fabian Brunnstrom. Brunnstrom had a hat trick in one of his early games, and 17 goals in a 55-game season. He quickly burned out afterwards and is now overseas.
At first, the Brunner comparisons to Brunnstrom looked ridiculous. Brunner looks quite skilled and is comfortable with the puck. He's also a right-handed shot, which is a valuable commodity on the Wings.
But since then, (and despite a respectable 11G/11A overall), things haven't been as good:
Other than the 8-3 Vancouver game (which was just a complete collapse), can you find an "elite" performance in there? He went over a month without scoring a goal, despite being a fixture with Zetterberg or on one of the top two lines (and a lot of power play time).
I want Damien Brunner back, for sure. But how do you value him? This guy looks kind of like Jiri Hudler to me. He looks like one of those guys who has a whole box of tools, but doesn't have that ability see what's going to happen one or two seconds later on the ice, like the great scorers and playmakers do. A two- or three- year deal for a modest amount ($2.5 million per? $3 million per?) might be the best for both the Wings and Brunner at this point, though that does leave him a UFA at age 30, which might make it hard for him to ever cash in on that long-term big deal.