When they start using DNA for human cloning, they’re going to take Shane Hnidy’s biological code and create a legion of sixth and seventh defensemen to populate the NHL. Never flashy and sometimes overmatched, Hnidy proved to be the perfect foot soldier for the Boston Bruins in their march to the top seed in the Eastern Conference and a berth in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Seemingly able to perform at a high level after weeks of time spent only practicing, and not playing games, Hnidy provided the Bruins with much-needed depth throughout the season when the injury bug bit key members of the defense corps.
Stats: 65 GP, 3-9-12, 45 PIM, plus-6 regular season; 7 GP, 1-0-1, 0 PIM, minus-1 playoffs.
Contract status: UFA July 1.
Season highlight: Forced into action because of Matt Hunwick’s emergency splenectomy, Hnidy made his presence felt in the crucial second game of the Montreal series, which Boston won 5-1. He scored the fourth playoff goal of his career on the rush off a drop pass by P.J. Axelsson to give the Bruins a 3-1 lead. For the game, Hnidy was a plus-1 in more than 16 minutes of action.
Season low light: For a stretch of March, Hnidy was a DNP-CD for 11 out of 13 games — a sign that the Bruins had bolstered their lineup at the trade deadline and were getting healthy heading into the playoffs. To his credit, he kept himself ready to contribute when needed in the playoffs.
In summation … Hnidy’s contributions weren’t felt as much on his stats sheet but could be measured in the continued development and confident play of regular defense partner Mark Stuart, who forged great chemistry with the journeyman, and the stretch-run freshness of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Wideman, who were able to play less minutes because Boston could rely on its third pair to not hurt the club.
Grade: B. In a mostly solid season, Hnidy needed to flaunt his knack for getting pucks through to the net more and be less panicky with the puck. But it’d be difficult to find someone that could do more with such limited ice time.
The crystal ball says … the Bruins will try to bring Hnidy back in the same role, but he’ll probably want to go somewhere he can get a better chance at playing every night and might even do better than his $757,000 cap hit.