32-Year-Old Defenseman – Pittsburgh Penguins
Matt Hunwick Contract Information:
Signed a three-year, $6.75 million contract with the Penguins in July of 2017.
Hunwick (concussion) will rejoin the lineup for Saturday night's game against the Blackhawks.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Hunwick came to Toronto with high expectations, but he was a massive disappointment in blue and white. Poor guy. He had played extremely sheltered minutes in New York and he was pretty much thrown to the wolves in Toronto. Hunwick skated with Morgan Rielly on the top pairing, but that was a mistake. He averaged almost 23 minutes a game and worked his tail off. But Hunwick's possession numbers were awful and he produced almost no offense to offset his shortcomings. His only real value came while shorthanded – he munched up minutes there, leading all NHL defenders in average ice time while killing penalties (3:42). Hunwick underwent sports hernia surgery last March and should be healthy heading into camp. But the Leafs will need to shelter his minutes on the third pairing to get his trade value back up. There's no fantasy value here.
Ever since having his rookie campaign (27 points in 53 games) cut short by a ruptured spleen with the Bruins in 2008-09, things just have not been the same for Hunwick. The nine-year veteran has progressively seen his games played totals dwindle since leaving Boston for the Colorado Avalanche. Despite posting 31 points in 52 games with Lake Erie of the AHL, the 29-year-old had just one appearance with the Avs a season ago. The former seventh-round pick now joins a crowded Rangers' blue line with hopes of making the team in training camp, but if all goes as planned for head coach Alain Vigneault, Hunwick will likely start the season with AHL Hartford.
Hunwick played in 43 games last season with the Avs, registering six assists in the process. He spent most of the time on the third defensive pair and struggled on both offense and defense. He's in the last year of his contract and will need to prove he's worthy of an extension or the Avs may choose to go down an alternative route. Hunwick needs to solidify his role on defense but also contribute offensively, something he has not been able to do as a pro. Avoid him on draft day.
Hunwick, who re-signed a one-year deal with the Avalanche in June, had a mediocre first season in Colorado last year, recording just 10 assists in 51 games along with a minus-19 rating. The Avs are clearly intent on allowing Hunwick to prove himself, considering they gave up a prized prospect (defenseman Colby Cohen) to get him from the Bruins. Furthermore, with the departure of John-Michael Liles, there may be an opportunity for Hunwick to play a larger role on the Avs' blue line this season. In short, he could wind up being one of the team's top four blueliners, but he's really going to have to work on his play in his own zone to earn that role.
The smooth-skating Hunwick, who ended up racking up just 14 points in 76 games, had an often trying 2009-10 season with Boston, to the point that he was a healthy scratch at times, but his mobility still gives him some long-term upside.
Re-signing Hunwick, who scored six goals and 21 assists in 53 games last year before suffering a season-ending ruptured spleen, was a priority for the B's, who highly value his upside as a puck-moving blueliner. He'll be healthy come training camp and since he has a shot to see some power play duty this season, he will be worth keeping on the fantasy radar.
Hunwick, along with Matt Lashoff will compete for blueline jobs in training camp. Whether they stick likely hinges on injuries to others, but Hunwick should see some NHL action this year, even if he ends up doing the Providence-Boston-Providence dance. He's already solid in the transition game, which helps his chances of seeing ice time with the big club this season.
Hunwick, who played at the University of Michigan last year, could probably use a season in Providence (AHL) but is good at moving the puck out of the defensive zone and initiating the offense. Even if he does make the Bruins' roster this season, he won't likely be a fantasy force.
Hunwick is small but he's tailor-made to play defense in the NHL. He's a great passer, understands his angles well and can score. This kid is someone to watch over the next couple seasons.