Where Are They Now? Trent Hunter Edition
Will Islanders management decide they can make a run this season for one of the last playoffs and look to bolster their roster, maybe picking up a ‘rental’ type player to try to find a way into the playoffs? Or will they decide that 2012-13 is going to be the year it all comes together and opt to trade some veterans while continuing to stockpile young talent.
For the rest of the season, I will be taking a look at some players that have been traded/released from the Islanders organization and see if they are helping or hurting their new team and look at the roster move as a whole. Our first player is Trent Hunter.
Trent Hunter was drafted in the 6th round by the Mighty Ducks Of Anaheim in 1998. He was traded to the Islander in 2000, for a fourth round draft in that same year's draft. The 2000 NHL Entry Draft was particularly memorable, for better or worse, as the Islanders drafter Rick DiPietro with the #1 overall pick. Hunter found immediate success in the AHL with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in 2001-02. He scored 30 goals and added 35 assists in 80 games. He continued his AHL dominance in his second season in Bridgeport scoring 71 points in 70 games. He was rewarded with a call up during the Islanders run in the playoffs that season. In eight games he was held goalless, but did have four assists.
In his rookie season in 2003-04, he finished with 25 goals, tied for first on the team in goals and finished 3rd in voting for Calder Trophy (Rookie of the year) After a brief stay in Sweden during the 2004-05 lockout, he returned to the Islanders for the 2005-06 campaign. His next three season he averaged 16 goals per season and only missed 5 games in three seasons combined. He scored three goals in five playoffs games in 2006-07.
From 2009 to 2011, Hunter missed 113 games over three seasons. The biggest injury was his grade three MCL tear that cost him the majority of the 2010-11 season.
Fast forward, or rewind back, to the beginning of the 2011-12 season. The Islanders were struggling to find quality free agent to take their talents to the friendly confines of the Nassau Coliseum. The team also had to deal with making the salary cap floor of $48.3 million for the season.
Enter Brian Rolston.
The New Jersey Devils were willing participants in this deal as they needed to circumvent some cap space in order to make a run at their premier left winger Zach Parise, who at that time was a free-agent. Rolston’s cap hit was $5.062, while Hunter’s was only $2 million. The deal worked for both teams financially, the Devils cleared room and the Islanders found a way to add over $3 million to their cap. The deal also included a conditional draft pick for the Islanders in 2012.
The move was mainly made for financial reasons, but the Islanders thought they were getting a good player in return as well. They boasted about his ability on the power-play and his relationship with Doug Weight as strengths. He could also be a mentor to the younger players and he had plenty of talent remaining, at 38 years old.
The Devils weren’t as high on Hunter. Shortly after announcing the trade, Hunter was waived.
Hunter would sign later in the summer with one of the Islanders opponents this weekend, the Los Angeles Kings.
Where Are They Now?
Islanders fans will be able to welcome back Trent Hunter as his new team, the Los Angeles Kings, visit Long Island on Saturday Afternoon. He was signed by the Kings on a 1-year deal. Hunter has stayed pretty healthy throughout the season and has been a contributor on both the fourth line and well as some time alongside Mike Richards on the top line. In 35 games, he has 2 goals and 5 assists.
Sunny Or Snowy?
When I first got wind of this trade, I honestly didn’t realize that Hunter was still an Islander. I was mostly indifferent on him as a player. He was a hard-worker and physical when needed, he just lacked some intangibles. He was good on the power-play and with his shot, but his presence around the net was lacking. He is a guy that generally won’t embarrass himself on the ice and will provide quality minutes for your team.
The move made sense financially for the Islanders. They have trouble spending money because no free agent wants to play in that arena. I think the lure of playing with Tavares will make the arena issue a moot point going forward but during the time prior, it was a really big deal for this team. The Islanders were willing to give Christian Ehrhoff, a mediocre defenseman, a larger contract then the one he signed with in Buffalo. He wanted to play for a ‘winner’. Sabres have played the Islanders three times this season, i couldn’t give you an example of anything he did. Rolston was essentially a cap mule, and he hasn’t disappointed in that role this season.
Brian Rolston has been in the press box the past few games and I haven’t been happier as a fan. He has really been terrible this year. 41 games played 8 points. He hasn’t been good on the power-play, he rarely puts the puck on goal and he makes his line-mates have to cover his tracks on every shift. He has a powerful shot, but the puck either hits the glass behind the net or the goalie’s chest protector.
Given the choice between Hunter and Rolston, I would take Hunter. He is younger and when healthy was a proven 15 goal scorer. Rolston is at the end of a good career and looks every bit of what a 38 year old forward looks like in their twilight. I would rate the move by Garth Snow, an A for Financial and a D+ for the 2011-12 Islanders team.
Next weeks player is someone my wife holds near and dear to her heart, Zenon Konopka. Was letting him go a smart move? I will go into detail on what the move has meant for this team and if the Islanders are better for it.
Until next time,