Canucks Roll Call is assessing every player who held a significant place in the fortunes of the 2021-22 Vancouver Canucks season. We’ll be looking at the highs and lows they experienced during the recent campaign, as well as what the future holds for them in Vancouver. We’re under way with the club’s free agents and today we feature Brad Hunt.
Position: Defenceman – Left shot
2021-22 totals (GP-G-A-P): 50-3-14-17, 12 PIM
Contract Status: Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) coming off a one-year deal that paid him $800,000.
Maple Ridge native Brad Hunt once again became an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2021-’22 season. No biggee. The soon to be (August) 34-year-old defenceman will take it in stride like he does most everything else. He appears to be one of the happiest, most positive people on the planet.
Many players were impacted when Bruce Boudreau took over for outgoing head coach Travis Green on December 6th, 2021, none more than Hunt. Based on familiarity from having coached him with the Minnesota Wild, Boudreau used Hunt on the left side of the D-corps on a regular basis and on rare occasion as a fill-in forward.
Green had used him four times over the club’s first 25 games.
Hunt improved with the ice time, earning minutes on the second power play unit where he finished the season, and showed surprising creativity with the puck and later in the season, an ability to get shots on net from the point.
Beginning on February 28th at the New Jersey Devils, Hunt put together a four-game point streak. The Canucks won three of those games. He later added a three-game streak that started April 14th at home against the Arizona Coyotes and Vancouver went 2-0-and-1.
Hunt essentially averaged one shot-block per game.
Fifty games played is the second highest single season total of his career, having played 59 games for the Wild back in 2019-’20.
Maybe to be expected from his upbeat approach and positive demeanour, apparently Hunt’s a pretty entertaining addition and morale boost to the dressing room.
Rather than utilizing Hunt, Green often employed four right-shot D-men in the line-up in November after lefty Jack Rathbone was sent down to the Abbotsford Canucks of the AHL. Hunt spent most of his early season in the press box.
Admittedly, quickness and size are a problem and not ideal in the Canucks-as-Cup-contender scenario. In these speedier days of the NHL, Hunt will find himself, more often than other D-men, getting blown around to the outside.
He’ll give you everything he has, but everything he has is 5’9″ and 175-pounds. Not exactly a crease-clearer or an intimidating presence with a total of 22 hits.
Fifteen of his 19 giveaways this season were in the defensive zone.
Given that this is starting to sound like an arbitration hearing, we’ll move along …
What the future holds
Ideally for the Vancouver Canucks, Hunt is a 7th or 8th defenceman, which isn’t ideal for him as the veteran really needs the rep’s to have an impact.
At some point he could and should become an organizational leader, a guy who captains the AHL club.
Question for him: Do you want to leave your native BC to keep chasing the NHL minutes and/or are you willing to step down to the lower level at age 34?
Question for the Vancouver Canucks: Do you want to spend one of your organization’s 50 contracts on Hunt for one more season? The answer is probably.