Name: Matt Hunwick
Status: Last year on his two-year, $2.9M contract.
Regular season, EV: 31.78% w/Dennis Wideman
Regular season, PP: 51.32% w/Wideman
Playoffs, EV: 82.55% w/Wideman
Playoffs, PP: 90% w/Zdeno Chara
The Good: A tremendous skater who has the offensive skill, and mindset, to become a very good scorer on the back-end. Despite a dismal regular season—and zero points in his last 10 games—Hunwick was playing his best hockey of the season towards the end of of the year and into the playoffs.
As opposed to last year, Hunwick managed to play in every post season contest, 13, and posted half of his six points on the power play alongside Zdeno Chara on the blue line.
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The Bad: After a very good rookie season—and a new contract—came higher expectations of the Michigan native. But Hunwick epitomized the “Sophomore Slump” saying; posting nearly half of the points from the season before (6-21-27, plus-15 in 2008-09) despite playing in 23 more games. His minus-16 was the worst on the team and—for a puck-moving defenseman who was supposed to pitch-in with more offense—didn’t even average one shot on goal per game.
Hunwick started the 2009-10 season off with a bang: posting 2-1-3 totals (one PPG) in his first four games, and was en route to, what looked like, a break-out year for the (then) 24-year-old. But Hunwick managed to notch just 4-7-9 totals over his next 72 games, with zero points coming via the power play.
An easy choice for a handful of healthy scratches this season, Hunwick quickly moved down the pecking order among the Boston D—being surpassed (by far) by Johnny Boychuk—with his costly turnovers, poor decision making, and inability to take care of business down in his own end. A drawback for the 5’11” blue-liner is his size and strength—often over-matched for puck possession battles in the corners and dirty work in front of the net by bigger opposing forwards.
It’s amazing what a difference a year can make. (case in point: the 2009-10 Boston Bruins). It’s even more amazing, in hindsight, that Boychuk was the one who was a healthy scratch for 23 of the first 26 games of the season, not Hunwick.
Re-signed before reaching arbitration last offseason, Hunwick entered this season as the one to provide some offensive spark to the Bruins’ blue line, and to be that puck moving defenseman that Peter Chiarelli has been harping on. Obviously, that was not the case this year with No. 48…as his play looked like he belonged in Providence more often than not.
Next report card: No. 55 Johnny Boychuk
Check out my other 18 report cards right here.