Brad Hunt was driving back from T-Mobile Arena following the Golden Knights’ 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Monday when his phone rang. General manager George McPhee wanted to speak with him.
Less than 24 hours later, the defenseman was with a new team in a new city. The Knights traded Hunt to the Wild, and he joined his new team in Colorado on Tuesday ahead of a Wednesday game against the Avalanche.
“I’m just super excited that it was Minnesota,” Hunt told reporters in Colorado. “My wife’s family is from Minnesota, I went to school in Bemidji, so I’m really familiar with the state.”
The Knights sent the Wild a 2019 sixth-round pick in addition to Hunt in exchange for a 2019 fifth-round pick. Minnesota has two fifth-round picks, its own and one from the Washington Capitals; the Knights will receive the higher of those picks in the draft order.
The trade came after McPhee said Hunt’s agent expressed concern about the prospective free agent’s role. Hunt played in 13 of 51 games with the Knights this season and only made four appearances after Nov. 11.
“It was time to give him an opportunity elsewhere,” McPhee said.
McPhee said the Knights defensive depth in the minor leagues made him comfortable trading Hunt, but he didn’t anticipate calling up a defenseman barring injuries. The move gives the Knights an open roster spot and they could use it when one of their three players on injured reserve (forwards Reilly Smith and William Carrier, goaltender Malcolm Subban) is able to return.
The gregarious Hunt was a favorite of teammates and team officials and will be missed.
“He’s just the epitome of a perfect pro and teammate,” defenseman Jon Merrill said. “You really couldn’t ask for a better guy to go to war with every night. As sad as I am to see him go, I think it’s a great opportunity for him and his career. Hopefully, he can play a little more regularly there going into free agency this summer and set himself up to continue to be an NHL hockey player.”
Holden enjoys fan support
Knights defenseman Nick Holden is playing for his fifth NHL team, and the third that opens practices to the public. But he hasn’t experienced anything like the fan support at City National Arena.
“The amount of people that come to the practices, for every practice, is definitely something different,” Holden said in an interview with the Review-Journal’s Golden Edge podcast. “In those other two places, Columbus and Colorado, you’d have people but it wouldn’t be packed every practice. That’s definitely been something that’s fun. It even brings a little energy to the practice.”
Odds and ends
— Smith (undisclosed) practiced with the Knights in a blue non-contact jersey. Carrier (undisclosed) and Subban (undisclosed) didn’t practice. McPhee said he had “no real update” on the three players’ status.
— Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was given the day off of practice.