Our T25U25 continues with a former WHL scoring ace who continued to improve in the American Hockey League.
#21: Dryden Hunt
Position: Left wing
Team: Springfield Thunderbirds
Undrafted (signed March 2, 2016)
After inking an entry-level deal with the Florida Panthers two years ago, winger Dryden Hunt continues to put in the work needed to become an NHL player. After pouring in 58 goals in his overage season in junior, the 2016-17 campaign was a bit of a disappointment for Hunt, who put up just 13 goals and 31 points in 70 AHL games with Springfield. Last season, Hunt improved on those totals, finishing second on the team with 23 goals and third with 46 points.
Hunt’s good start with the Thunderbirds earned him his first NHL call-up on November 10. He appeared in 11 games with the Panthers and picked up his first NHL point, an assist, against the New Jersey Devils seventeen days later. Hunt was returned to the Thunderbirds after a 7-3 to Colorado in early December.
Perhaps too much, too soon was expected of Hunt after he dominated the WHL as an overage player. His improvement from year one to year two in the AHL is encouraging, but one wonders where he fits in on the Cats roster. The top-six looks set and competition for spots in the bottom-six during training camp will be fierce and include more experienced, accomplished skaters. That said, as long as Hunt continues his upward trajectory, he could find himself in or near the front of the line to be called up if injuries hit or other players struggle. This is the final year of Hunt’s contract so he should be motivated to perform to turn heads not only in Sunrise, but among the front offices of the league other 30 teams.
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