As of last night it seemed like defenseman are going to be a major focus as we approach today’s 3pm Trade Deadline. The two bigger names that seem sure to be moved are Kris Russell and Dan Hamhuis. Both have expiring contracts and both are playing on teams that are looking to sell off as many assets as possible. With playoff teams like Tampa Bay, Dallas, Florida and Boston all said to be interested in strengthening their back-end, there will be teams that may be pursuing one or both of Hamhuis and Russell that will be left out when the trades go down. That brings up the idea of Matt Hunwick being a very interesting.
Dallas remains focused on either Russell or Hamhuis. Stars have a lot of time for Russell. Flames hoping to fetch two 2nds in return.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) February 29, 2016
In the past 12 hours, Darren Dreger has mentioned both Dallas and Boston as teams that are focusing their efforts on acquiring one of the two defencemen. Dallas has been said to be hestant of the price for Hamhuis and moved on to Russell who may be cheaper. Could they give Lou a call to fill out the back end of their defence with an even cheaper option? Matt Hunwick has been playing well above his head with the Leafs and should be nowhere near a team’s top-4 but as a bottom pair depth defender, he could bring insurance to the lineup that maybe contenders look for on deadline day.
With the clock winding down, we often see general managers panic and pay a price they wouldn’t want to in order to fill the holes. If the two bigger names are off the board and a team is desperate for blueline help, there are worse options than Matt Hunwick. He’d only cost about $350k against the cap for the remainder of the season and would fit in nicely as a bottom-pair guy on a good contract next year.
As we saw with the Winnik trade last night, the Leafs aren’t only looking ot move their pending-UFAs. A veteran with term may look more enticing to a team than someone they will lose in the offseason. Names like John-Michael Liles have been thrown out this morning as potential targets for general mangers looking to buy defenders. If that’s the case, Hunwick is almost certainly of interest to at least a few teams
Draft picks will be flying around today like champagne corks at Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar celebration party. If someone called Lou and offered a 2016 third round pick for Hunwick the Leafs would be likely to take it. A Hunwick move would be yet another example of the Leafs front office making schrewed offseason signings in order to maximize future assets.
Maybe Babcock talks Lou into holding on to him so the coaches aren’t saddled with a blueline of kids, but it shouldn’t be at all surprising if we see Hunwick as one of the final pieces of the mass sell-off.