Welcome to “get to know your Avs”! This feature will take a look at current Avalanche players (and maybe some staff, too) to give you an idea as to just who these guys are and what they mean to the Avalanche.
Yes, some (or most) of you will already know these guys but don’t be party poopers; nobody likes party poopers.
Today, we look at one of the Avs’ best defensemen from last year, a guy who was somehow on waivers as recently as last month yet remains with the team through it all: Matt Hunwick
Who: Matt Hunwick
Nicknames: I literally have no idea. Wicksy? That seems like a nickname for him.
How He Came to Denver: Traded from theBoston Bruins for Colby Cohen in November 2010.
What he’s done: Hunwick managed to crack the Bruins lineup on a full-time basis during the 2008/09 season, managing to tie a Bruins record for rookie defenseman (with Ray Bourque) with a six-game scoring streak. He finished with 21 assists and 27 points in 53 games, establishing himself as a puck-mover on the Bruins blueline.
Year two in Beantown wasn’t as kind to Hunwick, who was recovering from surgery to remove a ruptured spleen. He took a big step back offensively and found himself in the role of a reserve defensman for chunks of the season before being traded the next season.
Hunwick hasn’t quite found that that offensive spark of his rookie year but has taken on a “shutdown” role for the Avalanche, often facing the oppositions’ top forwards, using his good skating ability to keep with them despite a lacking physical game (seems to be a theme with this group of defensemen, no?).
What he means to the team currently: Despite being placed on waivers, he’s back for the 2013/14 season. With Tyson Barrie and Stefan Elliott likely to both stick with the Avalanche this year, Hunwick could see his minutes dip but will remain a top four defenseman for the Avalanche unless others step up.
He got a chance to play in most situations last year and is strong with the puck despite his limited offensive contributions. He, Jan Hejda, and Erik Johnson will be counted on to not only contribute on the ice but to help mentor the younger defensemen that the Avalanche hold in such high regard.
What to expect: It’s harder to really quantify the contributions of a stay-at-home defenseman in a stats way when there’s very little in terms of traditional stats. Hunwick had just six assists in 43 games last year and just 13 points in his last full(ish) season.
Hunwick will continue to play his role as one of the “shutdown” guys – or at least the closest thing they have to that – while the youngsters develop. He’ll also be charged with trying to make life a little easier on goalie Semyon Varlamov, who faced a ton of shots last year as the Avs sunk to the bottom.
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