Trent Hunter wanted to stay a New York Islander, and the Islanders very much wanted Hunter to remain a core player on Long Island. As a result, the Islanders and Hunter have agreed to a five-year contract extension that will keep the popular right wing in an orange and blue jersey through at least the 2012-2013 season.
"We've said it a lot: Trent Hunter is the kind of player and person we want as a core player for the New York Islanders," said Islanders general manager Garth Snow. "Our team theme this season is heart, grit and character and that's a perfect description of Trent. Everyone in our organization, and I'm certain our fans, are thrilled Trent Hunter is going to be an Islander for at least five more seasons."
Since being acquired by the team in the summer of 2000 from Anaheim for a fourth round draft selection, the 27-year old Hunter has spent his entire five-year NHL career with the Islanders. In 306 NHL games, he has scored 69 goals with 88 assist for 157 points with only 109 penalty minutes.
In an interview with NEWYORKISLANDERS.COM, Hunter expressed his gratitude to Snow and Islanders owner Charles Wang for the loyalty they showed him that he wanted in turn to show the franchise and its fans.
"This is what I was determined to see happen all along – a long-term deal," said the 6-3, 210-pound Hunter. "Even though I could have been an unrestricted free agent in the summer, I never gave any thought to playing anywhere else. I'm very proud to be an Islander every day and I didn't have any interest in being anything else other than a New York Islander. The contract got done today with a lot of respect and class shown on both sides, so now it's back to the race for the playoffs.
"I also want to thank Islanders fans everywhere for making Long Island feel like home to me and my family. We're excited about staying on the Island for a long time."
Hunter was a finalist for the Calder Trophy in 2003-04 as the NHL's rookie of the year. That season he scored 25 goals with 26 assists for 51 points and co-led the Islanders in scoring. That year Hunter finished with just 16 penalty minutes and a +23 plus/minus rating on his way to being named to the NHL All-Rookie Team that season.
In 2006-07, Hunter was named the recipient of the Bobby Nystrom Award, which is given annually to the Islander who best exemplifies leadership, hustle and dedication. This season Hunter has 8 goals and 24 assists for 32 points in 62 games and is considered a contender again for the Nystrom Award.
"Like Rick DiPietro
, Trent is one of those players that our ownership and management will not hesitate to make a commitment to," said Snow. "Just as our fans have loved watching them develop as Islanders, we're just as proud to have them on our team. Best of all, Trent wanted to be an Islander as much as we wanted him to stay. He could have become a free agent and as such a good player who's only 27, Trent would have drawn a lot of interest. But both sides showed loyalty and worked it out. Everyone wins in this deal." TRENT'S TEAMMATES REACT
NEWYORKISLANDERS.COM caught up with some of Trent Hunter's teammates tonight and got their reaction to the news of his five-year contract extension. Captain Bill Guerin:
"It's tremendous news for our organization and our fans. I think Hunts is a great young player who's only going to get better and better. He has talent and a really impressive work ethic. It's fantastic that management is signing some of our young, core players like Hunts to long-term deals." Rick DiPietro:
"No one deserves a deal like this more than Hunts. I've come through the system with him in Bridgeport and on Long Island and Trent works so hard and cares so much. He's one of those guys you're proud to be teammates with. That the organization showed such a strong commitment to Hunts says a lot about the Islanders. This is great news for our team and our fans." Mike Sillinger:
"That's my guy, my linemate, so I'm really happy for Trent and his family. He's a true Islander. I know he loves the area and takes a lot of pride in wearing our sweater. This deal has to mean a lot to him because he really wanted to stay here. It's really great that the franchise felt the same way about him and made such a strong commitment." Chris Campoli:
"Trent's still a young player, but he's been such a good leader since I came to the Islanders after a year in Bridgeport. He made me feel comfortable right away and I really appreciated it. You can ask any guy on our team and he'll tell you Hunts is one of their favorite teammates. Terrific news to know the organization has locked him up long-term."