Could Trent Hunter fit in well with Anaheim?

When Trent Hunter was acquired by the New Jersey Devils in the deal that sent Brian Rolston to the New York Islanders, it initially seemed like the sort of move that not only saved the Devils money, but helped them depth-wise on the right wing. That thought didn’t last long as the Devils waived and then bought Hunter out of his contract making him an unrestricted free agent.

With Hunter on the market and a few teams out there still in need of help along the wing, he’s someone that could be seen as a good fit on the third or fourth line and one team that could be in serious need of help there is Anaheim. The Ducks have reigning MVP Corey Perry locked in on the first line, but after that things get a little scary. We won’t find out until next month if Teemu Selanne will be returning for another year, and while we love enforcer George Parros he’s not exactly the guy you want starting on your second or third line.

Things look a bit perilous depth-wise on the right side for the Ducks, so should they be taking a longer look at Trent Hunter? Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register takes a closer look at what Hunter could provide the Ducks.

When asked if the club has made any overtures to the veteran was looking to sign the longtime New York Islanders forward, Hunter’s agent, Brad Devine, said, “Trent has had a number of teams showing interest. At this time, he has not made a decision on where he is going to play next year.”

There is a lot to read between those two sentences. Devine doesn’t address specifically whether the Ducks are among those teams interested but his statement also didn’t rule that out. Also, the teams he speaks of could also include those overseas in addition to any from the NHL.

Hunter in his past few seasons has been a bit disappointing. He’s seen his point totals decline in each of the last four seasons and his second season in the league back in 2003-2004 still remains his career-best season as he scored 25 goals and had 51 points. Since he had 41 points four seasons ago, he’s been unable to stay healthy and his production has declined. Last season he tore his MCL and played in just 17 games.

With declining production and coming off a bad injury, the chances of landing a good contract and seeing a heft amount of playing time are thin. Of course, if Selanne retires in Anaheim and the Ducks are in search of instant NHL-experienced right winger, Hunter could fit the bill. Counting on him to be anything more than a checking line forward would be a mistake, especially when he’s got his own health issues and could wind up a liability.

At his size (6’3″ 211 pounds), Hunter could fit in well with what the Ducks need on their right side. Once again though, Selanne’s decision will be the one that perhaps sets the wheels in motion for Ducks GM Bob Murray. That said, Murray would be better served by being proactive instead of reactive.

Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

Leave a comment

Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.

Blackhawks bolster Central lead, shine harsh light on Penguins’ struggles

1 Comment

Blame it on injuries if you want, or emphasize the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall hot finish to the season. Either way, Chicago scorched the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-1, a contest that felt more or less over by the time the first period ended 4-0 in the Blackhawks’ favor.

The Blackhawks scored by committee on Wednesday, with Artemi Panarin (goal, assist) and Patrick Kane (two assists) being the headliners. Meanwhile, former Penguin Marian Hossa has quietly climbed to 25 goals on the season.

Meanwhile, the Penguins limped through this one and have now lost four consecutive games.

With this result, the Blackhawks look like close to a lock to win the Central Division title. Meanwhile, the Metro crown is virtually unthinkable for Pittsburgh, and the Penguins might also need to accept the likelihood that they may not enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round.

They’d probably accept that more easily if they can get healthier and get back on track. Wednesday was a little worrisome in those regards.

Video: An early taste of the Tkachuk-inspired violence in Kings vs. Flames

7 Comments

BREAKING: the Los Angeles Kings really don’t appreciate Calgary Flames rookie-pest-forward Matthew Tkachuk thanks to that elbow on Drew Doughty (and the fallout from all … that).

Tkachuk responded by critiquing Doughty for “complaining to the media,” so there was testiness from the start.

There was jawing before the game. Then Jake Muzzin rebuked Tkachuk’s kind offer for a fight. Finally, Keith’s son dropped the gloves with Brayden McNabb:

It wasn’t the only bout of the opening frame, and there could be more blood to come beyond this Jarome IginlaDeryk Engelland feud:

Players from both teams better keep their heads up (and on a swivel) tonight. The Flames have to hope that this doesn’t result in injuries, judging from what happened to Johnny Gaudreau.

Avalanche sign Toews-like first-rounder Tyson Jost

Leave a comment

Things have been pretty bleak for the Colorado Avalanche this season, but at least they can look to a high pick in the next draft … and maybe dream about how their top pick from 2016 may pan out.

The Avs signed Tyson Jost, the 10th pick of the 2016 NHL Draft, to an entry-level contract on Wednesday. Colorado notes that he’ll jump right into some NHL action to close out this season.

It’s a nice sneak preview, as NHL insider Bob McKenzie noted on an NBCSN appearance (see above) that doing so will not burn the first year of Jost’s entry-level contract. Nice.

Even nicer? McKenzie also compares Jost favorably to … (drum-roll, though the headline spoiled it) Jonathan Toews.

Most obviously, the two both starred at the University of North Dakota. For the sake of fun, here are their numbers in their final years in the NCAA:

Jost: 16 goals, 35 points in 33 games, +17 rating (2016-17)
Toews: 18 goals, 46 points in 34 games (2006-07)

Naturally, Toews enthusiasts in particular will tell you that points aren’t everything … but maybe there are some shades of the two-way Blackhawks center there?

The Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy raved that Jost has “man-strength already” back around the 2016 NHL Draft, as you can see in this profile.

“Jost oozes confidence and already looks like NHL captain material for the future.”

Hey, that does sound at least somewhat Toews-like, doesn’t it?

***

In other signing news, the Buffalo News’ Mike Harrington reports that the Buffalo Sabres signed UMass-Lowell’s CJ Smith. More on that below.