Could Brad Hunt finally find a fixed spot on a National Hockey League roster?
To read the headlines, every Maple Ridge hockey fan’s favourite St. Louis Blue is making the most of his latest twirl in the NHL:
“Could Brad Hunt be a long-term solution?” asks the Bleedin’ Blue web page,
“Hunt is turning heads for Blues” says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
And, “Brad Hunt: Shattenkirk insurance?” asks SB Nation’s St. Louis Game Time.
Hunt was called up for a Dec. 9 game against the New Jersey Devils, and promptly put up a goal and three assists in four games with the Blues.
The offensive defenceman has now played 25 games through several cups of coffee in the NHL over the past four seasons.
The Blues have generally been giving him 12 to 13 minutes per night, but Hunt played 17 minutes against Nashville last Tuesday, and has been getting power play time.
Of all the Maple Ridge residents who are happy for him is friend and fellow NHLer Victor Bartley, who expects Hunt to stick with the big club.
“He’s an under-utilized player,” said Bartley. “His AHL numbers are insane.”
In the American Hockey League Hunt had played 23 games with the Chicago Wolves this year, putting up nine goals and 29 points. He was leading his team in scoring from the point.
Maple Ridge has had several players in and out of NHL rosters in recent years. Andrew Ladd is the elders statesman, playing for the New York Islanders, and Patrick Wiercioch has gone from the Ottawa Senators to the Colorado Avalanche.
Hunt and Bartley have really connected with the local hockey community by attending summertime fundraising hockey games in their hometown each of the past two years.
Bartley has yet to play this year. In his third pre-season game he got tangled up with Raffi Torres and tore his tricep. The muscle came loose at the bottom and rolled all the way to the top of his arm in the most gruesome injury he has experienced.
The veteran of 121 NHL games over parts of four seasons expects to regain 100 per cent use of his arm after a lengthy rehab, but isn’t projected to return until early April.
After playing in Nashville and Montreal, he was signed as a free agent by the Minnesota Wild in the offseason. He had a one-year deal that pays $650,000 to play in the NHL.
“I was looking forward to a whole new fresh start,” he said.
Hunt was a healthy scratch for a Saturday game against Chicago Blackhawks and again on Tuesday, as the rest of the St. Louis defence returned to action.