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Hunt, Hyka, Continue To Impress In Camp

Both players, seemingly pegged for AHL duty, have forced their way into the NHL roster discussion

by Gary Lawless @GoldenKnights /

Real fast, now. Name the clubs Brad Hunt and Tomas Hyka played for last season.

If you're answer is: "Who?" Don't feel shame. The free agent signings of the Vegas Golden Knights weren't household names coming into training camp.

They're aiming to change that.

For the record, Hyka played with Mlada Boleslav BK in the Czech Republic and Hunt split time with the St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators and Chicago Wolves of the AHL.

Through four preseason games with the Golden Knights, Hyka now has four goals and one assist while Hunt has one goal and five assists.

Video: VGK@ANA: Hyka tips in Reinhart's shot to extend lead


They may have come into camp under the radar but they are on the verge of becoming major storylines.

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There are only 23 roster jobs and if Hunt and Hyka play their way into the lineup - George McPhee and his hockey operations staff are going to have to trim elsewhere. It's a good problem to have for McPhee but nonetheless it requires decision making.

The talk coming into training camp was about the glut of veteran defensemen on one-way contracts. Add Hunt to the mix. He's done all he can to open McPhee's eyes. He's in the conversation for best blueliner in camp to this point.

And Hyka? All he does is score. He's scored in every game he's played for the Golden Knights. First two in rookie camp matches against the prospects of the Los Angeles Kings and now has four goals in three pre-season matches.


Video: VGK@COL: Hyka buries shot five-hole to finish rush

The knock on Hunt is he's undersized and may struggle to defend in his own zone. Even if the latter is a given, and so far that hasn't been evident in camp, his ability to transport the puck and generate offence outweighs any such flaws.

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Today's game is about puck possession and once Hunt gets the puck - he can make things happen. Teams shouldn't be built around players considered better at defending when hemmed in their own zone. The idea is to spend as little time as possible in the defensive zone and Hunt can help in that vein.

Hunt can use his speed to retrieve pucks and then turn and switch his team to offence. He has vision and can pass with accuracy. There's lots to like about his game. Can he handle the heavy going and stand up for 82 NHL games? It's worth finding out.


Video: VGK@COL: Hunt rips a slap shot top corner

The concern for McPhee at this stage with Hunt has to trying to put him through waivers. There are few secrets in the NHL when it comes to players. Last season when the Blues put Hunt on waivers, five teams put claims in on him. He's got value for a lot of teams.

The Golden Knights don't have a lot of pure offence on the roster and Hyka could prove to be a nice fit in the middle six. He could also find some work on the second power play unit.

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At 24, he's on an entry level contract and can be sent to the Chicago Wolves to further polish his game. But right now he's pushing for work in Vegas.

Speed and the ability to convert opportunity into scoring plays is key. The Knights have lots of forwards who can get up and down the ice - but how many can put the puck in the net when given the chance is a question mark. So far Hyka is excelling in this area and he's going to be given a very long look as a result.

McPhee and his group have been lauded for their work at both the expansion and amateur drafts.

But signing Hunt and Hyka, as well as the more heralded Vadim Shipachyov, suggests they also got some very good work done in free agency.

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