THE HUNTER OR THE HUNTED?

Brad Hunt is all about the lumber and not a thing about the leather. For a defenseman, that’s bad, real bad, and it will probably cost him a long and productive NHL career. He has two main issues moving forward as an Oilers farmhand:

  • Starting this fall, Edmonton will have Darnell Nurse, Griffin Reinhart and a large group of younger men pushing for NHL employment.
  • Starting this fall, Edmonton will have Joey Laleggia—a very similar talent offensively—starting his pro career.

In preparing for this year’s RE series, I was struck the by the enormous number of prospect defensemen. Normally the Oilers have seven NHL guys, five minor leaguers who may emerge but probably won’t and then some minor league sorts. This year? ONE minor league defender (Nick Pageau) compared to seven minor league forwards (Matt Ford, Phil McRae, Josh Winquist, Marco Roy, Alexis Loiseau, Connor Rankin, Braden Christoffer) and one goaler (Ty Rimmer).

The reason of course is all those 2011 defensive draft picks (Oscar Klefbom, David Musil, Dillon Simpson, Martin Gernat) are occupying roster spots in Edmonton and Bakersfield. I think Gernat may get the old in-and-out at some point but so far it appears he’ll be here in the fall to compete with the others.

OILERS ROSTER AND CAP

I don’t think Brad Hunt makes it through the year. I suspect Peter Chiarelli will trade him in a “Ryan Martindale for Steve Pinizzotto” type deal to address need. We shouldn’t expect much, maybe Rob Flick, but Brad Hunt is going to be taking at-bats from prospects from opening night until he’s traded. He played a pile of minutes (1,600 based on Eric Rodgers’ estimates) and delivered good offense.

THE OFFENSE

hunt ahl numbersBrad Hunt is pure madness offensively in the AHL. It’s clear he belongs in a higher league but the question is, which one? He’s an adventure defensively but the offensive potential is exceptional. His NHLE for his AHL career so far is 82GP, 9-20-29 . That’s very good for a defenseman and this year he was scoring at even strength too. Brad Hunt is an elite-level offensive talent in the AHL, I’m comfortable with stating it as fact. It doesn’t mean he’s going to be an NHL player, though. I don’t think he makes the grade because of his inability to skate and be effective defensively. The one thing that could happen? Hunt grabs the No. 8 and final defensive spot over Brandon Davidson or other and is used as a specialty player on the 5×4. I think it highly unlikely and have not projected NHL numbers for Hunt this season. I don’t believe he’ll be in the organization in 2016-17.

BAKERSFIELD 15-16

 

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16 Responses to "THE HUNTER OR THE HUNTED?"

  1. zatch says:

    He’s a guy who could really benefit from the expansion draft. Put him on the PP on a bad expansion team, no reason he can’t put up 35 points. All while being awful on defense.

  2. Sevenseven says:

    Is it just me, or does Justin Shultz already have that chaos, 3rd pairing pp specialist job on lock? I’d say let him go to Europe, give Laleggia his minutes, see if he can actually defend while putting up points.

  3. OilinBC says:

    If management is so intent in keeping Hunt around, why not audition him on the 4th line with a push on the second PP unit? I would rather see Hunt eat up those minutes than a dedicated face puncher like Gazdic.

    EDIT:

    The PP push would definitely be as a D-man, that shot is ridiculous.

  4. stush18 says:

    I think hunt is the Alex giroux of defenseman in the AHL. He clearly has elite offensive skills, buts lacking whatever it is to keep him around at the next level.

    He’ll find employment in Europe, but he might as well ride out this dream while it lasts.

    It’s too bad, because if we never had Schultz, I think he would have gotten a better shot.

  5. Bootstrap Effexor says:

    I’m working on my NY pizza again and I came across this clip of Jon Stewart breaking his sherry, Italian style, over too much Hunt’s (dreamboat, meet lycopeneboat).

    I also came across some soft hands.

    The Pieman’s Craft: Stretching Pizza Dough with Motorino’s Mathieu Palombino (full speed sequence begins 1:30).

  6. Ryan says:

    Hunt is a surprisingly poor skater–especially backwards for a player of any size let alone an undersized one.

  7. Sevenseven says:

    If you are going to be small, you better have legs and strength like St Louis.

  8. Centre of attention says:

    Sevenseven:
    If you are going to be small, you better have legs and strength like St Louis.

    I think Joey LaLeggia has got the ‘legs’ and his skating is definitely a strength. At the skirmish and from what video I’ve seen via youtube of him in his Hobey-Baker finalist days, Joey could always easily fly back and at least interfere with the play going the other direction, even after a bad pinch.

    If he can keep that up and expand on it, he might be the best option for a pure “puck-moving defenseman” the Oilers have. He might be a bit one-dimensional right now but damn he can skate. He has the wheel’s to get back and play a bit of defense, and by eye he has more of a will to do so then someone like Hunt or even Schultz.

    I could see Joey being similar [if all goes well] to Tory Krug, used in the right situations he could be deadly on a McPowerplay.

  9. dustrock says:

    As noted above, sometimes I wonder why they can’t try guys like Hunt on 4th line wing and then PP2.

    Agreed that Joey Legs is going to have the better career.

  10. G Money says:

    It’s always a bit of a mystery to find someone can excel at the AHL level yet never find their way at the NHL level. Hunt obviously scores a lot more than he gives up at the AHL level. You’d think each of those things would be muted a bit (scores a bit less, gives up a bit more) but not so much as to be completely ineffective in the NHL.

    Yet completely ineffective he is.

    Which leads me to a second topic, which is the difficulty in finding good fancystats for defensemen, especially defensive defensemen. If you have boxcars and Vollman’s for a forward, you can get a mighty good picture just from that.

    But even with boxcars, Vollmans, HERO charts, and WG’s Fenwick method, I still find the stats and the eyes don’t line up for defensemen nearly the same way as they do for forwards.

    Here’s a must-read article (from back in January but I just came across it today) that deconstructs one of the mysteries of the realm aka Shea Weber, he of universal ‘eye test’ praise and mediocre fancystats.

    http://www.si.com/nhl/2014/12/16/eye-test-shea-webers-advanced-stats-show-he-misses-ryan-suter

    To my mind, the article really underscores the importance of understanding context. It matters for all players, but it *really* matters for D. In the case of D, the article does a great job of highlighting the critical relevance of the D partner in crime.

    Maybe we shouldn’t speak of individual Corsi for D at all – just D pairs.

    Most applicable lesson in there for the Oilers might be in understanding Mark Fayne (and to a lesser extent, Double Agent).

  11. jonrmcleod says:

    “When it comes to Griffin Reinhart discussions among Oilers fans, opinions are like rear ends: Everybody has one.”

    And some stink.

  12. Zelepukin says:

    I’m really going to miss the genius of Eakins pairing Jultz with Hunt. That was a great tv-screaming-filled October.

  13. Wild Bill Hunter says:

    Any NHL team employing Brad Hunt on the blueline is in deep trouble. He has a great shot and in the AHL where he has time to tee off he is an assassin. In the NHL his shot alone is not enough. He is small and slow and does not compensate with savvy. He cannot recover from the frequent pinching errors he makes…in short his offense positives are nowhere near a balance for his defensive negatives. He is not even useful in the NHL as a puck mover as his lack of speed frequently forces battles that a normal slow defenseman would not have to face.

    Giving Hunt a contract was a mistake. The Oilers cannot afford to sit young players with potential in order to add a few points to the Bakersfield total. It is time the Oilers figured out that the AHL is s developmental league and hired AHL coaches who will not try to pad their winning percentages by using older AHL lifers over young prospects.

  14. Wild Bill Hunter says:

    Centre of attention,

    Correct. LaLeggia can skate and he has offensive talent. His size will be a problem at the NHL level and only time will tell if his college play can be refined enough to make him an NHLer. But he has real potential.

  15. jonquixote says:

    zatch:
    He’s a guy who could really benefit from the expansion draft. Put him on the PP on a bad expansion team, no reason he can’t put up 35 points. All while being awful on defense.

    Oh man, remember those two or three years when Andy Delmore was breaking hockey pools?

  16. Oilanderp says:

    LOVE Brad Hunt. I know, I know. Don’t care. Would love to see him get another shot with a stay-at-home partner before we send him down the river.

    I’m aware my opinion on this matter is in the slimmest of minorities here, so I’ll see myself out.

    *shuts the door behind himself quietly*

    *trips up and falls into a stack of hubcaps in the alley*

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