As a midseason pickup, defenseman Brad Hunt’s stint with the Wild was an abbreviated one.
But it was enough time for Hunt to impress as a left-shot defender who could play either side, rove between the second and third pairings and contribute on special teams.
And now he’ll get the chance to build off that solid debut with the organization, as the team announced Monday it agreed to a two-year, $1.4 million contract with Hunt ahead of July 1 when he was set to become an unrestricted free agent.
In 29 games with the Wild last season, Hunt had three power play goals and totaled five points. He capitalized on the opportunity to be a point man on the power play, a role the Wild was hoping to bolster by adding Hunt amid defenseman Matt Dumba’s absence because of a season-ending pectoral injury. Hunt also stood out for his versatility, moving all over the lineup — including to forward on a few occasions.
Overall, Hunt tallied 12 points in 42 games with Vegas and the Wild in 2018-19. His five goals and four power play tallies were career-highs.
The Wild acquired Hunfrom the Golden Knights on Jan. 21 along with a sixth-round pick in last weekend’s draft, which the team used to select center Nikita Nesterenko, in exchange for a 2019 fifth-round pick.
This is Hunt’s fifth stop in the NHL; the 5-9, 187-pound 30-year-old has 10 goals and 39 points in 128 career games over six seasons with Edmonton, St. Louis, Nashville, Vegas and the Wild.
He also boasts 209 points in 287 career games in the American Hockey League and racked up 112 points during four seasons at Bemidji State.
Hunt and Anthony Bitetto were the only defensemen who finished the season with the Wild who were up for new contracts. Bitetto is poised to become a UFA.
It’s possible that after signing Hunt the Wild’s blue line is set with seven NHLers returning, although the team might want to continue to tweak with its depth like it did with this move.
Thirty-one prospects are scheduled to descend on TRIA Rink in St. Paul for the Wild’s development camp, which kicks off Tuesday.
That group includes seven of the team’s eight draft picks last weekend in Vancouver; only left winger Vladislav Firstov was not included on the camp roster.
Aside from skating, strength and conditioning work, players also will tackle off-ice topics such as sports psychology, social-media training and nutrition.
Practices Tuesday and Thursday, starting at 9:20 a.m., are free and open to the public. So is a 3-on-3 tournament Friday at 6:30 p.m.
The Wild’s philosophy is to draft the best player available at each pick, but a few trends emerged from its selections last weekend.
Beefing up its goaltender pipeline was a focus, as the team added two netminders in Hunter Jones (59th) and Filip Lindberg (197th).
Forwards who could play on the wing and up the middle were appealing, a versatility team brass feels some of its picks have. And the Wild also loaded up on players with size; everyone except 5-11 defenseman Marshall Warren is at least 6 feet.
“The thing I liked is when guys came up to our table and they were way taller than me,” General Manager Paul Fenton said. “We’ve had some smaller prospects, good hockey players. But every time somebody came up and they were much taller, you got a smile on a lot of our faces.”