One and Done is a (hopefully) reoccurring series exploring the players who had the quickest of cups of coffee with the team. The players that played in one game, and one game only, for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
There is still a chance. Cody Kunyk has a chance to get off of this list. Everyone else profiled so far has long since hung up the skates, not so for the Alberta native. He is still fighting his way back to the NHL.
The Lightning were on a solid run of signing college free agents having inked J.T. Brown and Andrej Sustr to deals after their college careers were over. They continued that trend with Kunyk. He played 4 seasons at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and ended his career being named the WCHA Player of the Year.
Despite the accolades and offense he generated the competition for his services never hit a Jimmy Vesey-level of hype. It wasn’t much of a surprise when Kunyk with the Lightning in 2014 following the end of his college career. After all the 5’11″ center had participated in the team’s development camp the previous summer.
He signed to a one-year deal in March of 2014 and after practicing with the team for a couple of weeks he did make it into the final game of the season, a 1-0 shootout win against the Washington Capitals on April 13th.
Now in 2014 it would be easy to assume that the goaltender responsible for a shootout shutout would be Ben Bishop and that the goal scorer would be Nikita Kucherov or Tyler Johnson (not Steven Stamkos, though he never scores in a shootout). That assumption would be wrong. The winning goaltender – Anders Lindback, getting a shutout in the last regular season game he would play for the Lightning. The winning shootout goal – Matt Freakin’ Carle.
Kunyk, the son of a Canadian Football League punter, played just over ten minutes, managed two shots on goal and won one out of four face-offs. Not the most impressive stat line, but he didn’t embarrass himself either (well at least not too much). He blocked a shot and hit a guy. It was the stat line of a smaller player who has a reputation for being a grinder.
In the off-season he signed another one-year, two-way deal with the LIghtning. He spent the entire year in Syracuse, picking up 26 points in 69 games for the AHL affiliate. Unfortunately he got caught up in a numbers…ummm…crunch and didn’t see his contract renewed after the season.
Even with the original crop of Tampacuse forwards having been called up to the Lightning there were still too many other centers needing playing time in the minors. There just wasn’t room for him in Syracuse.
Not wanting to give up on the hockey dream the 26-year-old went overseas and after failing to catch on in Germany, played 27 games in Denmark for the Gentofte Stars where his 29 points was good enough for second on the team. It was also good enough for him to earn a contract back in the AHL. He is signed for the upcoming season with the Utica Comets, AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks.
He also got married in the offseason. Jon Cooper was not at the wedding.
At this point in his career the chances of him being a star are fading. He is probably, at best, a depth forward who can fill out a roster in the minor leagues and maybe earn a call up when there is an injury. While he might not still be in the organization, he is still grinding and that means that maybe, just maybe, there is still a chance he finds his way back to the Lightning.
Does he have a Lightning hockey card?
Do I own it?
Previous entries in this series: