FUTURE WATCH | Brad Hunt
Oklahoma City Barons defenceman Brad Hunt is having a career season in hopes of returning to the Oilers after having his first taste of the NHL in January
Brad Hunt has been described as one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. When you talk to the Oklahoma City Barons defenceman, you can instantly see why. He exudes an energetic and enthusiastic personality. He has also developed a mischievous reputation for joking with the Barons staff at home games.
“That’s just my personality,” Hunt said. “I’m just a happy-go-lucky person. I think life’s too short to be in a bad mood all of the time so I just wake up with a smile on my face. I’m really a firm believer in, if you just say hi to someone it can chance their day. That’s how I am whether I don’t know them or I know them, I always say hi to people and ask how they’re doing. Really, that’s just how I am. I’m just an easing going, happy-go-lucky person.”
|Photo by OKC Barons/Steven Christy
Whether it’s pretending to forget when to come on to the ice as a starter, then poking fun at the employee in charge of the starter’s panic with that ‘I gotcha’ look, or firing pucks at the glass in front of unsuspecting staff members or even spraying snow on the staff during post-game skates with the team, Hunt is always in a good mood.
But when it comes to Hunt’s opponents, he hasn’t been so nice.
He’s on a tear and has helped the Barons start piling wins as of late. Hunt is seventh in AHL scoring for defencemen with 34 points (8-26-34) in 45 games. In his last five performances, the 25-year-old blueliner has scored 10 points (3-7-10). When asked about his individual success, Hunt was as humble as advertised.
“I’ve been playing really well and I think it’s a tribute to the guys,” he said. “The whole team is playing with more confidence and it just helps because it’s contagious. Really, it’s just been a confidence thing with (the OKC coaching staff). Everything is just really starting to click and kind of starting to go our way so I think that’s helping too. For myself, it’s just, ever since I got back from Edmonton, it’s been a real confidence booster and I’ve just been trying to continue that. Like I said, it’s the other guys helping as well. The team confidence we have is making a big difference I think.”
Hunt, a four year player at Bemidji State University, went undrafted. He signed with the Chicago Wolves in 2012, joining the team’s Head Coach Craig MacTavish, who is now the general manager of the Edmonton Oilers.
|Photo by Getty Images.|
“I went there right after my college season ended so I was there probably about a month and a half with him,” Hunt said. “He was great to me and he’s been super loyal to me and he taught me a lot in those month and a half to two months that I was there, just about being a professional, how to handle yourself and I’ve used those skills he taught me throughout the last couple of years of professional hockey.”
Hunt played just 14 regular season games that season, recording five points (1-4-5). He also scored four points (1-3-4) in five playoff games with MacTavish’s Wolves.
After another year with Chicago, Hunt was once again on the free agent market. He would be reunited with MacTavish as the Oilers signed him to a two-year entry-level contract on July 6, 2013.
“It was awesome. For (MacTavish) to give me a chance in Chicago… and for Craig to call me this summer, it was really just an awesome feeling to be able to create a bond with someone from two years ago and still be on his radar. It was just… there’s not really words for it. It was a really cool opportunity for me, especially with a guy like Craig, to back up what I did for him when we were together in Chicago. It was really cool experience and I’ll never forget it.”
Hunt has posted professional career highs in goals and points this season. He’s at the point in this 2013-2014 season in which he feels ‘invincible’.
“It all comes down to confidence,” Hunt explained. “It just seems like you just stop thinking. Everything just kind of comes to you. You don’t think about everything, you just play. That’s what I mean about confidence. You do feel invincible because everything is going your way. You try something you would never try before and it works and it gives you even more confidence.
|Photo by OKC Barons/Steven Christy
“It’s like the opposite of quicksand. In quicksand, you try harder and harder and you just go deeper and deeper. This is the opposite of that. Almost, you’re trying less but you’re getting better and better every day. It’s just one of those things that’s hard to explain what it is. You feel really good about yourself and you’re not afraid to try things and you’re not thinking as much. You’re just playing and having fun.”
Hunt earned a three-game call up with the Oilers in January. It was his first taste of NHL action and something he’ll never forget.
“The experience was unbelievable. Honestly, that’s what I’ve always wanted to do ever since I was a little kid and dreaming of doing that. Now that I got a little bit of a sniff of it, I just want to keep playing better and better and get back up there as soon as I can. Once you get the sniff, you want to keep going with it. It’s another thing to just keep working towards, to get another chance, and that’s what it’s all about. Like I said, that’s what I’ve been wanting to do my entire life. There’s no point in giving up. You got the sniff and you just want to keep working hard to get better and better every day and get another chance again.”
As the trade deadline approaches, MacTavish has said that the Oilers wish to clear some roster spots to give their AHL players, who have earned it, an opportunity to showcase what they’ve got. If Hunt continues to play with the production that he has been, he may be an intriguing option for an audition on the team’s blue line.
“I think that’s always in the back of your mind but I’m a firm believer in you can only control the things that you can control yourself,” Hunt said. “That’d be an awesome opportunity to happen and it’d be another dream come true really. But as of right now, I’m just focused on this season with the Barons. We’re I think, four points out of a playoff spot. I’ve never really, truly made a playoff being a full-time player in the pros. Last year was my first (full) year and we never made it. It’s another cool accomplishment to be that close to the playoffs and really, right now, that’s all that I can be focused on. Like I said, it’s the things that I can control and I just want to help the team, with the Barons, and hopefully we can get closer and closer to a playoff spot.”
Barons Player Stats | AHL Standings | Barons Schedule | Past Prospect Stats: 2012-13 | 2011-12
Stats Updated as of Tuesday February 25, 2014 at 9:00 p.m. MST
|d||19||58||5||10||15||-13||88||EVERETT SILVERTIPS (WHL)|
|f||19||61||31||42||73||22||59||CALGARY HITMEN (WHL)|
|DARNELL NURSE||D||19||58||12||36||48||5||76||SAULT STE. MARIE (OHL)|
|F||18||61||30||23||53||-1||46||VANCOUVER GIANTS (WHL)|
|f||19||49||14||20||34||0||50||EVERETT SILVERTIPS (WHL)|
|F||19||60||31||27||58||29||140||EDMONTON OIL KINGS (WHL)|
|F||18||39||9||8||17||-4||14||LONDON KNIGHTS (OHL)|
|19||11||5||16||-7||8||OWEN SOUND ATTACK (OHL)|
|F||24||35||4||7||11||7||126||JOKERIT HELSINKI (FINLAND)|
|F||19||49||2||2||4||2||35||NIZHNY NOVGOROD (RUSSIA)|
|26||30||14||12||3||3.02||.911||OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)|
|LAURENT BROSSOIT||20||7||2||4||0||3.53||.885||OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)|
|4||1||1||1||3.15||.914||OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)|
|22||19||n/a||n/a||n/a||3.12||.894||HPK HAMEENLINNA (FINLAND)|