Daemon Hunt makes his NHL debut with Minnesota Wild
November 6, 2023, 9:18 am
Daemon Hunt was called up and realized his dreams of playing in the NHL October 27, when he got his first ice time with the Minnesota Wild.
A third-round draft pick in 2020, the 21-year-old from Moosomin played with the Iowa Wild of the AHL last season.
Hunt started Minnesota’s road trip on standby after being called up, but by the second stop, he was added to the lineup.
His NHL debut came in the Wild’s 3-2 shootout loss to Washington October 27.
He was on the ice for five shifts in that game, and skated four minutes, 13 seconds in front of his parents, Renee and Doug.
Thrilled to be called up and to play against Ovechkin
Hunt was thrilled when he got the call to join Minnesota for the road trip, and even more thrilled to have played the Washington Capitals, and NHL star Alex Ovechkin, in his first game. He says the experience was surreal.
“I got a phone call from my head coach in Iowa, and he said, ‘you are getting called up.’ Obviously, I was thrilled to hear that. I travelled up to St. Paul and attended the game, I didn’t play. Then, I went on the road trip with the team, and we went to Philadelphia, Washington, and New Jersey. My first game was in Washington versus the Capitals.
“It was all surreal. Growing up, I always wanted to play in the NHL and I dreamt of it, but for it to actually happen to me, that was very surreal. I had to stay as focused as I could. It was so easy for my eyes to wander and get distracted so I was trying to stay focused playing against Ovechkin. I grew up watching him every day of my life and I was always playing video games with him in them, so to play against him was very cool.
“The whole experience was very good. I didn’t play a lot, but just to be a part of it and get a couple minutes on the ice with some shifts here and there was awesome.
“I did play in New Jersey against the Devils as well. It was crazy.”
Daemon says it is easy to become starstruck and it’s a good challenge for him to try to match the other players’ skills.
“You can get easily starstruck. I was playing against those types of players, but I think it was a good challenge for me to see how well I could match up with them and realize how big, strong, and fast these guys actually are. I thought I handled myself really well. There wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. At the end of the day it is just hockey and I think I was right there with everyone. I do need a bit more time and experience playing, and I will just get more comfortable as it goes.
“It was very cool to play against big hockey players, especially Ovechkin. It was just really fun and great experience.”
Hunt says Sidney Crosby is who he is most looking forward to playing in the NHL.
“I have always looked up to Sidney Crosby as a Canadian kid playing hockey, and playing against him would make this experience even more special.”
Hunt’s parents travelled to see all the games on the Wild’s road trip.
“My parents flew out. They came on the entire road trip. They were at every game and then I ended up playing in Washington and New Jersey.”
Looking to the future
Hunt is optimistic on his career in the NHL and will see what happens with his time in Minnesota.
“I am in Minnesota,” he said Monday. “We play again this upcoming Thursday. I am honestly not too sure if I will play or not, but just going day by day and seeing. If I go down to the American League (AHL) again, it is what it is, but for now I am not looking too far ahead, just playing as much as I can.”
A third-round draft pick by the Minnesota Wild in 2020, Hunt is in his second pro season.
Hunt recorded seven penalty minutes and four shots in four games with Iowa this season before being called up by Minnesota.
He had two goals and nine assists through 59 games with Iowa in the American Hockey League last season and was tied for first among AHL rookie defensemen with two game-winning goals.
Hunt also notched one assist while playing in two games during the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs. He owns 12 points (three goals and nine assists), 21 PIM, and 72 shots in 69 career AHL games over parts of three seasons with Iowa.
Hunt also played five seasons (2017-22) with Moose Jaw in the Western Hockey League, posting 94 points (33 goals and 61 assists), 81 PIM and a plus-3 rating in 163 games played while serving as the team’s captain during the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons and as an alternate captain in 2019-20. Hunt ranked fourth among WHL defensemen with 17 goals during the 2021-22 season and ranked second among WHL defensemen with eight goals in 2020-21. Hunt won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships and tallied one assist and a plus-5 rating in seven games for Team Canada at the 2019 IIHF Under-18 World Championship.