Given the recent trade of Colby Cohen to Boston for defenseman Matt Hunwick, I decided to give you a double-dose of Checking Out this week. It’s time we learn a little more about the newest Av.
25-year-old Hunwick is a Warren, MI native, drafted in 2004 by the Boston Bruins in the 7th round (224th overall). He attended the University of Michigan where he was named captain in his senior year. During his time with the Wolverines, he posted 24 goals and 73 assists. He was named to the CCHA All-Rookie team in his freshman year and the CCHA Second Team All-Star rosters as a sophomore and junior. As a senior, he played on the All-American West Second-Team and the CCHA First Team All-Stars. He was also given the award for the CCHA’s top defensive defenseman. In 2004 and 2005, he competed with Team USA in the World Junior Championships, posting no points in his first appearance and a 0-4-4 record in his second.
The 2008-2009 season was his first real foray into the NHL. He played 53 games, scored 6 goals, and got 21 assists. His 27 points and +15 rating was his best to date. During that time, he had 6 multi-point games, as well as a six-game point streak (tying Ray Bourque for a club record as a rookie defenseman). He also played 6 games at forward where he had one goal and one assist. Hunwick didn’t get to participate in the Bruins’ post-season but for one game, during which he sustained a spleen injury. On April 18, 2009, he had an emergency splenectomy and missed the rest of the playoffs. In 2009-2010, he struggled both offensively and defensively, being a healthy scratch frequently, putting up only 14 points and registering -16 in 76 games. However, in his 13 games in the playoffs, he ranked third on the team in assists at 6. This season did not start off well for the young defenseman. His -3 was the worst of the team in the Bruins’ 5-2 loss to Phoenix in the season opener in Prauge. About his dismal start, Hunwick said, "It’s a terrible feeling. I know my first feeling was ‘shit, this is going to be last year all over again.’ I just couldn’t get any breaks to go my way. But the next night, I was plus-2. I wasn’t even directly involved in those plays. That’s just how it works. You get noticed for being a plus and you get noticed for being a minus. You don’t necessarily have to do anything on any of the goals to get the recognition. Sometimes the bounces go your way, but it was nice to get back to an even playing field over the next few games." So far this season, he’s played 22 games, scored 1 goal and 2 assists with a +4.
Hunwick, despite his college honors, is considered to be an offensive-defenseman with his ability to skate and jump in on the offense as his biggest asset. He has spent time on the point during power plays--paired with Zedna Chara--and has found some success there. However, he spends little time on the ice when the team is short-handed.
The former-Bruin seems to be regaining some of his early on-ice production, and hopefully a change in scenery--and a young, fast team--will propel him to the next level offensively. He also might give some added toughness, despite being only 5’11" and 193 lbs. He recently threw down the gloves against Evander Kane, something not many players are willing to do: