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2017-18 Player Report Card: Matt Hunwick

Season in review for the biggest free agent signing for Pittsburgh in 2017

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Name: Matt Hunwick

Position: Defenseman

Shoots: Left

Age (for 2017-18): 32 (turned 33 after season ended)

2017/2018 Stats: 42GP/4G/6A/10P

Career Resume: via hockeydb


Hunwick and Fancy Stats

(via CJ Turtoro and HockeyViz)

Picked Ian Cole at random to compare Hunwick’s stats to in the above, Cole is much better offensively and the Pens surely wanted/imagined better controlled zone exits from Hunwick this season.

The top bar is points/hour and Hunwick wasn’t bad here compared to the past, the biggest item that stands out is all the white (stops and starts from injury and scratches) and the 3rd declining bar which is ice-time going way down.

For teammates, Hunwick briefly started the season paired with Cole and also got quite a bit of time early with Justin Schultz. After injury he played with those two and a healthy dose of Olli Maatta. Then basically the 2nd half of the season Hunwick played with Jamie Oleksiak when Hunwick played.

Some nasty stuff, Hunwick was the worst defenseman on the team in terms of Corsi% and Goals Against/60. Hunwick provided a bit of offense, but all of that (and more) was erased by being on ice for a dreadful 3.06 goals against/60.


On July 1 2017, the Penguins knew they were going to lose more than they would add from their two-time defending Stanley Cup champion team. Veteran defenders Ron Hainsey and Trevor Daley both ended up cashing in on the spoils of success with multi-year deals worth $3 million+ with Toronto and Detroit, respectively.

In order to stem the tide of those departures, Pittsburgh quickly announced that day the signing of Hunwick, who was brought in for $2.25 million, but did get three years out of it, practically a standard for a vet NHL caliber defenseman.

The season didn’t go well, Hunwick didn’t make a seamless transition to his new team and then suffered a concussion a few weeks into the year. From there, it wasn’t quite the same seemingly for Hunwick to catch up to the rest of the league in mid-season form.

To make matters worse for Hunwick personally, the Pens added Jamie Oleksiak in December and wanted to give the tall, talented youngster a chance to play. Oleksiak also didn’t let them down and kept earning more games. Chad Ruhwedel always quietly does well when pressed into action too. And, other than Hunwick, even the Pens notoriously injury-prone defensemen (Kris Letang, Olli Maatta) had totally healthy seasons.

Add it altogether and with some uninspiring play on Hunwick’s part, it’s the perfect storm to relegate Hunwick to healthy scratch territory, which he was for the entirety of the 2018 playoffs. Certainly that’s not how the player or team saw things playing out last summer when Hunwick was added, but that’s the twists and turns the season took.


Tweet highlight reel

And highlight of the year, poking home a GWG in a 3v3 OT against the Islanders.


Final Grades

Even Strength: D

For some reason it just didn’t work out and Hunwick was used less and less in games, if dressed at all. He certainly played himself out of the lineup, but with 33 of his 42 games coming pre-all star break (when the whole team was struggling and sometimes uninterested), it’s worth maybe wondering or hoping that perhaps Hunwick would look better if given another chance with a more motivated and consistent team.

Special Teams: D

Wasn’t asked to do a lot, and didn’t do a lot. Guessing pre-season expectation of coach and player was Hunwick would be a guy to add depth and some PK and he ended the year as an after-thought so that’s too bad.

Durability: D

Probably more bad luck than anything else, but an older than average defenseman dinged by injuries with 2 more years left on his contract isn’t ideal

Playoffs: Incomplete

Didn’t play, which is a bummer in itself to be that far passed on a team by guys like Oleksiak and Chad Ruhwedel. But it shows where Hunwick is and how far he has to climb to get back into the mix for next season.

Overall Grade: D-

FINAL WORD: Couldn’t have been what the Pens were hoping for. So now, what’s next for Hunwick; a trade, a burial in the minors or another chance at playing with the Pens next year?