Prospect Update: Hunter Drew

Photo: Charlottetown Islanders

By Thomas Harrington

A sixth-round pick from last summer, defenseman Hunter Drew just completed his final season of junior hockey. Similar to Roman Durny, instead of returning to the QMJHL for an overage season, he has signed a contract with San Diego and will join the Gulls this season.

Drew is not a player known for his offensive skills; he’s better known for using his large body as a physical presence on the ice. However, in his final junior season, Drew scored 16 goals and 50 points in 61 games, excellent numbers for the physical rearguard. His 50 points were third on the Charlottetown Islanders and led the team’s defense. He ranked eighth in the entire QMJHL in defensive scoring and also had four three-point games. Fair to say that Drew’s final season of junior hockey was a successful one from an offensive standpoint. In the playoffs, the Islanders lost in the first round in six games to the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. Drew played in all six games and recorded four assists. Drew finished his junior career with 24 goals and 92 points, which shows how much he improved in his final season of junior hockey.


This coming season, Drew will start his pro career, hopefully in San Diego. The Gulls’ defense will actually look quite different next season. Jaycob Megna, Andy Welinski, Trevor Murphy, Luke Schenn, and Jake Dotchin left as free agents, while Jacob Larsson will likely be in Anaheim for most of the upcoming season, and Josh Mahura will likely join him for stints in the NHL as well. Those seven players combined for over 200 games with the Gulls this past season. With so many players having left the roster this summer, there is definitely space for Drew to get playing time with the Gulls.

Despite his great final season of junior hockey, Drew is not a player known for his offensive contributions, and my expectations for this season reflect that. Even though the Gulls are losing a ton of defensive talent, they still have a good defensive core, and Drew doesn’t need to be one of the offensive leaders. Instead, I’d like to see him settle in on the team’s bottom pair and get some time on San Diego’s penalty kill unit. Powerplay time would be nice, but I don’t think that’s necessary for him this season. If he can appear in almost every game this season, and make his way to the team’s second defensive pair, that would be a fantastic season for Drew.

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With Drew turning pro this season, he’s showing that he thinks he has an NHL future, though he’s got a little ways to go before he gets there. If he can have a great season in San Diego, then the Ducks could sign him next summer, with an eye to give him some NHL time either in the 2020-2021 or 2021-2022 seasons. He’ll never be a top-pairing defenseman, but with the offensive ability that he showed this past year, he could slot in on a team’s second pairing someday if he progresses as hoped. When he was drafted, his size and playing style looked like a future bottom-pairing player but Drew significantly improved his game over the last 12 months.

Drew is unsigned and Anaheim controls his rights until next summer. If he has a strong first season with the Gulls, expect the Ducks to sign him to an entry-level contract before next June. If he doesn’t, they may let his rights expire, but hope he decides to keep playing for the Gulls.

The next prospect update will be on Chase De Leo.

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August 26th, 2019


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