Defenceman Brad Hunt enters tonight’s lineup against the Calgary Flames, ahead of the first-round youngsters Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom. Head Coach Dallas Eakins says the reasoning was that the Oilers need Hunt’s power play ability.
“His ability to move the puck and we need help on our power play,” Eakins said. “When you get down to certain decisions, it sometimes gets down to specialty players. He hasn’t hurt us defensively at all, he’s very smart, he’s not the biggest guy but he understands angles, he’s got a great stick. Again, he doesn’t defend a lot because he moves the puck so well. It goes back to why would you ever want to defend? Let’s have the puck, let’s make the plays so we’re not chasing it around. He certainly brings what we need on our power play. We need more of a ‘shot mentality’, we’ve given the guys the numbers on it, what our goals are every two minutes of a power play, and he brings that. He’s not looking to pass the puck first when he gets it at the point. His first thought is, ‘can I get it to that net?’ That’s why he’s here.”
Hunt will be paired with Justin Schultz against the Flames.
“He’s an excellent hockey player and he’s got a very bright future in this league so it’s an honour to be able to play with him. It’s going to be fun,” Hunt said.
Schultz has played with a lot of different partners in his young career. He hopes to one day find his long-term defensive partner, but for now he’s ready to see what they can do.
“It’s difficult to find that chemistry with a partner,” Schultz said. “With some guys, it happens right away. Obviously, I haven’t found that yet. I like playing with all the guys I’ve played with, it’s not a matter of that. Me and Hunt are together tonight, we’re both good offensively and hopefully we’ll have a good game out there.”