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Depth Defenseman Hunter Warner

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Steady play defines Hunter Warner's game.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

One of the Wild's least talked about prospects is Hunter Warner, probably because he was an undrafted signee. Warner played high school hockey with Eden Prairie, and then moved on to play in the USHL for the Fargo Force. Warner was undrafted, so the Wild invited him to play at the development camp last summer before signing him to an entry level contract in September.

He started off his 2014-15 season playing for the WHL's Prince Albert Raiders, on the third defense pair with Brennan Riddle. When Josh Morrissey returned from Jets training camp, Warner began playing with 2015 draft eligible defenseman Brendan Guhle. By November, Warner had moved up until he was playing with Josh Morrissey on the first defense pair, before Warner's season ending shoulder surgery (even without the injury he would not still be playing with Morrissey as the Winnipeg prospect was traded to the Kelowna Rockets in January.) Warner played well with the Prince Albert Raiders, especially considering he spent the season struggling with a long term injury.

Warner's game is a simple one. He plays solid positional defense. I also like his offensive zone movement. He tries to find passing lanes and stand in them to provide options for his forwards without going so far into the zone that he can't get back if a turnover makes in necessary to defend. Warner is the kind of defenseman who an offensive defenseman loves to play with because he is reliable about defending and confident about supporting offensively. He's not flashy; he's merely reliable. But with an overabundance of players, particularly at the junior level, who are mistake-prone, it's refreshing to see a steady defender. However, Warner's biggest weakness is that he is a bit slow, especially when skating backwards.

Peter Prohaska of Hockey's Future described the state of Warner's game during his season with Prince Albert:

"He is still a lanky player but he has handled the size and skill of WHL competition pretty well in the early going. Warner is not going to impress often with offensive flair, but a simpler game will probably work fine for a Prince Albert squad likely to be chasing play this season."

scouting report from the 2013 USHL Atlantic Challenge discusses his good physical game while expressing concerns about his positional game:

"Warner is a big, strong defenseman, and played a physical and aggressive game against Cedar Rapids. He did a good job at forcing opposing forwards wide and taking their space near the boards. [...] One thing that worried me, however, was that he’d leave his position at times to make the big hit - decision making that could stand to be improved. He showed some offensive potential, but nothing major.

Throughout the showing, Warner connected on some short exit passes and showed decent skating skill, but he can improve his top-speed and quickness. He made some odd decisions with the puck at the point, shooting into closed lanes and making odd passing decisions. Needless to say he made an impact on viewers in showing some good toughness on defense, with potential of being a good shutdown guy."

He's not going to wow anyone with offensive prowess, but he has solid potential as stay at home depth defenseman.

In this video, Hunter Warner is the right side defender wearing 22 in white and green. On the first goal, Warner doesn't do much other than being a well positioned point defender. On the second goal, he makes the first pass out of the zone which earns him an assist. Both plays are kind of dull, but they show the sorts of plays that Warner will make frequently.

I wouldn't say he projects to make the NHL, at least not any time soon. But he will certainly make the Iowa Wild better with his reliable play when he transitions to the professional ranks.