We're at the point in the summer -- and hallelujah for this -- where next season is closer than the end of last season. Why, I even have opening night tickets vs. the Penguins, baby! But before we get into training camp and preseason digestion mode, I do want to finish the report cards for last season's important Islanders. (We'll have other content, too, but expect more of these report cards in the next week or two.)
Today: Trent Hunter, the understated team leader, the scoring winger with size but not speed, the guy who scores big goals yet often leaves me dreaming of more ...
If you're on this site's home page, the poll/report card appears next, but click past the jump (after the poll) to see the pupil's body of work (and poem, of course).
#7 / Right Wing / New York Islanders
Jul 05, 1980
4 more seasons at $2M per
Surely this will be the year he returns to 25 goals?
Random Fact: It's often -- rightly -- remarked that the Islanders never fully made Mike Mottau pay for his cheap head shot that interrupted Frans Nielsen's season just as it was taking off. But I wonder, in the midst of our blood lust, does anyone remember that Hunter jumped right in and fought Mottau before you could scream, "What was that?!" It's true:
I'm not saying the Isles are a squad of tough guys and UFC-level goons. I'm saying that if guys like Hunter, Witt and Sutton help take care of everyone, we don't have to mourn the lack of someone with a storied card on hockeyfights.com.
"This is our concern, Dude" Fact: I occasionally retell how Hunter's AHL career and full-time arrival as a rookie had me creating what became a 50-goal scorer in EA's NHL game. Perhaps, four seasons and five years later, I can finally agree I overrated him just a tad. Tough to argue his peak is anything above the 25 goals of his rookie year.
The Story: Like every single full-time Islander, Trent Hunter's 2008-09 was abridged by injury. As if the Madison Square Garden penalty box door weren't already out to get him, there was a hand injury in January, a hip injury in February and finally, an awkward fall and broken ankle that kept him out of the last 17 games of the schedule. Just par for the course with the 2008-09 New York Islanders.
Before that, though, Hunter was delivering the production we've become accustomed to from Hunter during his 5 full seasons: lots of hits, a handful of PP goals, and about one point every two games. The difference last season was that his goals and assists were about even, which means with a full season he just might have gotten back to that fabled 25-goal area that enticed us so much during his rookie year.
The Good: Despite a lack of speed that perhaps keeps him from becoming a top-tier "power forward," Hunter's hockey intelligence and positioning make him a good fit for Scott Gordon's system. Could that mean better things for him next year?
The Bad: Well, I mean he doesn't appear to be what I (at least) hoped after his rookie season. But the injuries last year really hijacked what might have been a strong season.
For $2 million per annuum I'll take it
A power forward who don't fake it
By units imperial?
If the rink were a furlong he'd still skate it
The Grade: This is an open classroom with wildly subjective criteria for your own report card. But I'm most interested in where you think Hunter's season was headed before the winter injury bug hit. Personally, I thought it was going to easily be his best year since his rookie year, but I don't want you to take my word for it.
So grade his season -- or the healthy part of it, at least -- based on your preseason expectations, with 5 being far exceeding, 1 being far below, and 3 being right on the money. Bonus question: How would you feel about Hunter wearing a captain's letter -- and which one?