Yesterday the Toronto Maple Leafs traded Swiss forward Denis Malgin to the Colorado Avalanche in return for Dryden Hunt. In this post, I’ll offer three thoughts about the trade that might help Maple Leafs’ fans know more about their new player.
Thought One: Is Dubas Helping a Player Who Didn’t Have a Path with the Team?
First, was this trade moving Denis Malgin out or bringing in Dryden Hunt? It might be a bit of both. Perhaps this trade was a bit like similar trades that Maple Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas has engaged in in the past.
The Josh Leivo trade comes to mind first – this month was four years ago. It seems that Dubas had an informal agreement with Leivo that, should there be no path to the NHL in the Maple Leafs’ organization, Dubas would give Leivo a chance with another club. That club was the Vancouver Canucks.
In that trade, the Canucks sent back Michael Carcone. Carcone was then moved to the Ottawa Senators, then to the Nashville Predators, and eventually signed with the Arizona Coyotes. He’s playing in Tuscon currently.
There was also rumoured to have been an agreement believed to be between the Maple Leafs and Alexander Barabanov a couple of seasons back. Barabanov was moved to the San Jose Sharks for Antti Suomela. Suomela is now playing well and is the leading scorer with Oskarshamn IK in the Swedish Hockey League. Barabanov is doing well with the Sharks.
In other words, if the Maple Leafs have signed a player who shows that he won’t be part of the organization, Dubas has the propensity to move that player elsewhere.
Thought Two: What Did the Maple Leafs Get with Dryden Hunt?
Obviously, until a player engages in a body of work in an organization, it’s not really clear what the team has in a player. Nicolas Aube-Kubel was one of those players. The Maple Leafs brought him in as a bottom-six forward, but he didn’t work out for the team. As a result, Aube-Kubel was put on waivers and the Washington Capitals picked him up. He hasn’t been playing that much with the Capitals either.
But what about Dryden Hunt? What kind of a player is he? He’s quite a bit different than Malgin in several respects. First, he’s bigger than Malgin. Second, he’s more of a physical player than a playmaker. Third, he’s a bottom-six option, whereas it was hoped that Malgin would fit into the team’s top-six.
During Hunt’s stint with the New York Rangers, he registered 153 hits in 76 games. That’s about in the same ballpark as Zach Aston-Reese. Currently, the team’s leading hitters for this season are Rasmus Sandin (I was surprised) with 74 hits in 32 games and Justin Holl with 64 hits in 32 games. He would be up there with the Maple Leafs’ leaders.
At the same time, it might be that the Maple Leafs’ time with Wayne Simmonds is over. Simmonds isn’t the same player he was, and he’s less trustworthy than he was as well. It might be that Hunt would replace Simmonds as a physical presence. He’s an Aston-Reese sort of player.
Thought Three: What Does the Scouting Report Tell Maple Leafs Fans About Hunt?
Looking at a brief scouting report, we can find out that Hunt is a depth forward who continues to find NHL jobs because he’s willing to go into high-traffic areas to score. His one downfall seems to be his skating. He’s far from an elite skater. He’s big enough, but not exceedingly large.
Hunt was a scorer in junior hockey. He scored 58 goals and added 58 assists in 2015-16 for the Moose Jaw Warriors. He also produced several points (he has 23 goals two seasons in a row with the Springfield Thunderbirds) in the AHL, but so far that prowess hasn’t translated to the NHL.
He needs to improve his play away from the puck to earn more NHL ice time, but he seems to have shown some scoring touch in the past.
At one time, it was thought he might turn into a scorer at the NHL level, but that hasn’t happened – at least not yet. Could he become another Michael Bunting?
As noted, we don’t yet know what kind of a player Hunt will be with the team. We’re not sure yet what the team’s plans for him might be. However, the recent trade for Conor Timmins is working out quite well. Could this trade become another one on the positive side of the ledger?