Matt Hunwick might just be the player that people have talked about the least when it comes to the new players that the Leafs acquired this off-season. There’s good reason for that – he’s been a bottom-pairing defenseman for his entire NHL career, and that’s probably what he figures to be for the next two seasons in Toronto. That doesn’t mean he can’t be a valuable player though, and it doesn’t mean he can’t exceed expectations either. Hunwick has excellent underlying numbers (as you’ll see past the jump), and he might be even more effective for this team than some people are expecting. So if you’re really, really passionate about the team, keep reading, and I’ll tell you all about the life and times of this new Leafs blueliner.
Hunwick is a Michigan hockey product though and through. Born in Michigan, his amateur career started with the esteemed Honeybaked Hockey Program. After that, he moved on to the U.S. Development Program in Ann Arbor, Michigan. When his time was up with them, he went on to play a prominent role for the Michigan Wolverines in the CCHA.
A seventh-rounder of the Bruins, Hunwick turned pro after four years in college and played parts of the next four years both in Boston and with their AHL affiliate in Providence. In 2010, Hunwick was traded to the Colorado Avalanche where he spent an additional four seasons. He played reasonably well for them as a depth defenseman, but ended his tenure there with Lake Erie of the AHL. He was able to bounce back last year though, and after signing a one-year deal with the Rangers, he went on to play some steady and effective hockey in New York through 55 regular season games and 6 playoff games. On July 1st, the Leafs signed him to a two-year deal.
Nothing special here – again, Hunwick has basically been a bottom-pairing defenseman throughout his NHL career. It’s worth noting though that Hunwick has excellent underlying numbers, numbers that suggest he might be even better than the role he’s been playing in for the past several seasons:
That said, I doubt Hunwick plays more than a depth role for the Leafs during his time here. If that’s the case, he should at least be a very steady, probably even above average, depth player on the Leafs’ blueline.
- All-CCHA Rookie Team (2004)
- 2005, 2006, and 2007 University of Michigan Most Outstanding Defenseman
- All-CCHA Second Team (2005, 2006)
- CCHA All-Tournament Team (2006)
- Captain for the University of Michigan (2006-2007)
- CCHA First All-Star Team (2007)
- West Second All-American Team (2007)
- CCHA Top Defensive Defenseman (2007)
- 2013 IIHF World Championships Bronze Medalist (United States)