Except for only the most elite defensemen, the second NHL season for after a promising rookie campaign can often be filled with growing pains. After this year, Matt Hunwick might as well be an adopted member of the Seaver family.
There are a lot of different factors you could combine to come up with excuses for Hunwick’s decline. But the fact is, in a season when the Bruins need help from their back end for a weak offense, and suffered some key injuries to their blue-line corps over the course of the season, Hunwick skated in 76 games and didn’t step up to fill a void.
The diminutive defenseman struggled on breakouts and made some horrible reads in his own end all year. And it wasn’t until the season was on the line that he contributed a little offense. With Hunwick signed for one more year, the Bruins have to hope that Hunwick can do what legions of young defensemen before him have and bounce back in his third year to carve out a solid NHL career.
Stats: 76 GP, 6-8-14, 32 PIM, minus-16
Season highlight: Early October was still a period of promise for the 2009-10 Bruins coming of their impressive season the year before. In just the team’s fourth game of the season, they showed flashes of that ’08-09 magic by rallying from 3-0 down to win a shootout over the New York Islanders at TD Garden. Hunwick’s wrister from the left point with David Krejci jumping out of the way and Michael Ryder screening the goaltender was the game-tying tally with 2:34 left in regulation.
Season lowlight: When you consider Hunwick was only a minus-2 after two months of the season and finished minus-16, there were a lot of tough times over the final three quarters of the season. In one of Boston’s most embarrassing losses of the year, Hunwick was a minus-2 in a 5-1 defeat at Montreal. On a night of gaffes, Hunwick’s flubbed clearing pass from the corner wound up on Mike Cammalleri’s stick for the second of his three goals on the night.
Final grade: D-plus
Some better decisions and a little offensive flair (six points) in the playoffs helped save Hunwick from a straight D during his season of regression.
The crystal ball says … after hearing his name in trade rumors all summer, Hunwick returns to the Bruins for 2010-11 and skates on a third pair and on the second power play for most of the season while becoming less of a liability on a better-equipped team.