Reported first by the OC Register – yep, a stinkin’ Duck paper scooped everyone about Kings’ related news – then confirmed by Rich Hammond, the Kings have invited former New York Islander & short term New Jersey Devil Trent Hunter to try out at training camp in an effort to receive an NHL contract.
Should you care? Well, maybe. That’s all up to Hunter who was able to perform reasonably well on terrible Islander teams before finding his contract bought out by the Devils after being traded there last season. All in all, Hunter may very well be capable of performing better on the ice than Ethan Moreau (they both play right wing), though Ethan has been adamant that he is in good physical condition and ready to perform as well as he ever has in the past. We’ll see about that.
Hunter’s best season was his first season, back in 2003-2004 when he scored 25 goals and 51 points. Since then he’s average about 35 points. All in all he’s about a half-a-point-per-game winger. It must be noted that most of those point totals were achieved with top 6 ice time, something he won’t likely ever see again. Now, I won’t proclaim to know too much about Hunter’s style of the play, since the Islanders have never been high on my list of teams to pay more attention to, but I do know that he is large (6’3″, 210lbs) and uses his size well to jockey for position at the front of the net. I am actually mildly excited to see him in camp. I would most likely prefer to have Hunter in the bottom 6 at RW than Westgarth & Moreau. In the case of injury it wouldn’t be hard to make the argument that he would fill in a top 6 role better than either of the two aforementioned bottom six right wingers. He could be a nice player to keep around as a scratch for spot duty and he would come very cheap if he earns any sort of deal from the Kings.
The problem is that Hunter is 31 and would be taking time away from a kid if he does end up wearing the crown… or, um, shield/homeplate/coat of arms/UPS thingy. We’ve already seen the backlash over this factor when Moreau was signed and it isn’t pretty. Does 5 years make that big of a difference? Us NHL fan ageists still consider anything past 30 to be old and decrepit right? More importantly, Hunter was originally drafted by the Ducks and though that isn’t his fault and he never played for them, I still reserve the right to hold it against him.