The Minnesota Wild traded a conditional fifth-round pick to the Vegas Golden Knights for a sixth-round pick and defenceman Brad Hunt. The 30-year old blue liner had appeared in just 13 games for the Golden Knights this year, often finding himself in the press box. This trade allows Minnesota to pick up some of the offensive slack left behind by the injury to Matt Dumba.
Depending on who you talk to, you’ll get wildly different opinions on Hunt. Some people think he’s, at best, an end-of-the roster guy to be used sparingly, much like Vegas has used him during his tenure with the team. Others (myself included), think he’s a pretty good puck-mover from his own end who can help on the power play, and is underrated defensively. Using CJ Turtoro’s viz, we can see how Hunt compared over the last few to a guy seen as a young top-pair defender by many around hockey. These include things like exiting the zone with possession, shot rate, and defensive entry breakups. Not a lot of games tracked, but good results in the ones he has:
Though a different type of player, this reminds me of Hunt’s now-former teammate Colin Miller; did well in small samples but was never given a shot for big minutes further up the lineup. Going to Minnesota and having Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin on the left side won’t change that, either. Hunt can play the right side despite being a left shot, and that could lead to more ice time without Dumba around than playing the left side. It depends how they use him.
Who This Helps
The Minnesota Power Play – Over his brief career, Hunt has been a guy who has helped drive more shots on the power play relative to his teammates, and that has led to more goals. Right now, the Wild PP is about middle-of-the-road in conversion percentage on the season but is 29th in goals/60 minutes at 5v4 since Dumba’s injury. Hunt can help them at least move them to being average again. But they need to use him there, which remains to be seen.
Erik Brannstrom – Not that Hunt would have been a huge impediment, but it’s one left-shot defenceman gone from the roster with the left-shot Brannstrom waiting in the wings.
Devan Dubnyk – Despite his reputation, as I’ve shown above, Hunt appears to be a competent defensive defenceman. Anyone who can help limit shots is a welcome addition for any goaltender.
Who This Hurts
Nick Seeler – Assuming Hunt is used on the left side of the third pair, this could hurt Seeler’s ice time. It’ll also hurt just the sheer numbers of games in which he appears.
It'll hurt whomever comes off the power play, and my guess is that's Pontus Aberg, but that's purely a guess right now.
Assuming Hunt isn’t re-signed by the Wild, I wouldn’t worry about him hurting the process by which the Wild bring up any prospect defencemen. He probably won’t be a factor for 2019-20.
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