Dave Hunter was the first of three Hunter brothers to make it to the NHL, followed soon thereafter by Dale and Mark. Hunter was a 1st-round selection of the Montreal Canadiens, 17th overall, in the 1978 NHL Amateur Draft.
Hunter played three years in the OHA with the Sudbury Wolves and was lauded for his strong two-way play. In his final year of junior, he scored 44 goals and 88 points in 68 games with the Wolves. He also had 156 minutes in penalties, proving he could handle the tough stuff as well.
By 1978-79, Hunter was set to turn pro but opted to join the Edmonton Oilers of the WHA, feeling he would have a better chance at cracking their lineup as a 20-year-old rookie. He played 72 games with the Oilers that year, scoring 32 points. With the folding of the WHA at the end of the season, Edmonton and three other clubs were absorbed into the NHL, and Hunter continued playing for the Oilers. In his first year in the NHL, he played in all 80 games, scoring 12 goals and 43 points. Hunter spent close to nine seasons with the Oilers in the NHL and was a member of three Stanley Cup championship teams, in 1984, 1985, and 1987. He likely would have been fitted for a fourth ring in 1988, but he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier that season.
In 1988-89, he joined the Winnipeg Jets for 345 games before being sent back to the Edmonton Oilers where he played the final 32 games of his NHL career. Hunter retired having played in 746 games, scoring 133 goals and 323 points.