Trent Hunter gets a chance to shine at Kings' camp [Updated]
All Trent Hunter wanted was a chance to show what he can do when he agreed to a training camp tryout with the Los Angeles Kings. On Sunday the 31-year-old winger got more than that: He was given a spot on one of their top two lines in place of the flu-stricken Justin Williams.
For Hunter, who was bought out by the New Jersey Devils this summer a few days after they acquired him from the New York Islanders, the fill-in role isn’t likely to last long. It probably will end as soon as Williams recovers. And Hunter is a long shot to make the team, given the Kings’ new depth up front with the additions of top-six forwards Mike Richards and Simon Gagne and the presence of other veterans like Ethan Moreau.
But it should be interesting to watch him try, especially since he said he had other training camp invitations but chose the Kings for several reasons.
“I sat down with my agent and we just figured this would be the best fit. We talked long and hard about it, and I’m definitely excited to be here,” he said Saturday after his first practice with the Kings.
“It’s definitely a fun team to watch. I haven’t had a chance to see a lot of them, being out on the East Coast, but they’ve got a lot of very skilled players and solid [defense] and great goaltending. So I think it’s a great all-around team.”
Hunter, 31, played only 17 games last season after tearing his left medial collateral ligament in late November. He was drafted by the Ducks in 1998 but never played for them and was traded to the Islanders in May 2000. He peaked at 25 goals in the 2003-04 season and had 20 in 2006-07 but hasn’t scored more than 14 goals in a season since then.
He said the Kings hadn’t made any promises, and he knows he will have to have an exceptional camp to make a strong impression.
“I’m just going to go out and play my game,” he said. “It just felt good to be back on the ice with the guys.
“It was definitely a long year for me last year, having to watch so much hockey, so it’s exciting to be back out there, and I’m just going to go out and play my game and skate hard and work hard and see what happens.”
Colin Fraser (ankle surgery) and J.F. Berube (hip surgery) continued to skate but not with a group.
I've twice emailed General Manager Dean Lombardi to ask if he has any news about unsigned defenseman Drew Doughty, but he hasn't responded. If there's any change, I'll provide an update.
[Updated at 7:25 p.m.: Lombardi said via email that he had not spoken to Doughty's agent, Don Meehan, on Sunday.]
[Updated at 8:20 p.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Lombardi said via email that he had spoken to Doughty's agent.]
-- Helene Elliott
Photo: Trent Hunter during his days with the New York Islanders. Credit: Julie Jacobson / Associated Press