The St. Louis Blues recalled a replacement for Robert Bortuzzo on Thursday.
According to the Chicago Wolves’ transactions page, the St. Louis Blues have recalled defenseman Brad Hunt. This is the second call-up of the season for the 28-year-old Hunt, who joined the Blues for a one-day stint in Dallas on November 3.
Hunt, a 5-foot-9, 187-pounder, leads the American Hockey League with 29 points (nine goals and 20 assists) in 23 games. While he’s traditionally been thought of as an offense-first defenseman, Hunt has also shown himself to be a rather disciplined defender at the AHL level this year, posting a team-best plus-9 rating. He was named AHL Player of the Week last week and had a goal and two assists in the Wolves’ Wednesday win over the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Interestingly, this is the second time that Hunt has replaced Robert Bortuzzo on the roster. He should have a longer stint with the NHL club this time, though; Bortuzzo is expected to miss six weeks with a lower-body injury, so as the Blues enter a tough portion of the season, it’s likely that they’ll keep Hunt–who’s played in 21 NHL games for the Edmonton Oilers–around as their seventh defenseman.
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Despite his success in the AHL this year, it’s a bit of a surprise that Hunt got the call over Petteri Lindbohm, who had already played five games with the Blues this season. It seems to be a situation where Hunt is going to be the seventh guy on the depth chart–and thus a healthy scratch a vast majority of the time–so the Blues would rather go with the guy who has veteran experience and has “earned it” with his AHL performance this season rather than going with the the 23-year-old Lindbohm.
While the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Lindbohm certainly has the higher upside of the two, he can probably benefit a little bit more from consistent AHL playing time, as opposed to sitting in the press box at the NHL level. The Blues made the same types of moves last season, recalling veterans Chris Butler and Peter Harrold to fill short-term vacancies as extra defensemen, but ultimately recalling Lindbohm when extended playing time became available.
With Bortuzzo set to miss more than a month, this seems to be a situation where Hunt might be able to earn some playing time, but it will be interesting to see what the Blues do if an injury occurs.