Hutton's signing last offseason was widely criticized due to his lack of NHL experience. (Only one game prior to the start of the 2013 season.) The move looked even worse when the club lost Pekka Rinne due to a hip-infection after only nine games. Hutton struggled at times early on, (and was replaced by even less experienced Marek Mazanec for a time) but eventually proved he could be a solid backup, ending the year with a 20-11-4 record, posting a .910 SV% and a 2.62 GAA.
No question this is a reward for taking on the starter's burden after Rinne went down, as well as his play in the season's final months. Given the backups available in free agency, Hutton's deal is a bargain. Consider that he produced the numbers he did in a starter's role he had no business being in. He also played between 15-20 more games than guys like Thomas Greiss or Al Montoya, who would have made just as much (if not more) than he'll be. Hopefully, his number of starts goes way down this year. You know, because of a healthy Rinne and all. *knocks on wood*
Overall, this is the right move for the Predators. They get a decent backup at a good price, which allows them to save money to be able to qualify the RFAs they have, (as well get in on the bidding for free agent forwards) and give Mazanec time to get starts in the AHL. The best part of this one, though? All of the upcoming in-game interviews and analysis Hutton will be doing.
From the Predators' official press release:
Nashville, Tenn. – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed goaltender Carter Hutton to a two-year, $1.45 million contract. He will make $700,000 in 2014-15 and $750,000 in 2015-16.
Hutton, 28 (12/19/85), spent his first full season at the NHL level in 2013-14. After starting the season with just one game of NHL experience, he finished the season as the sixth 20-game winner in franchise history, posting a 20-11-4 record to go along with a 2.62 goals-against average, a .910 save percentage and a shutout. The Thunder Bay, Ontario native went 13-4-2 in his final 19 decisions of the season, which included a personal five-game winning streak to close out the campaign; he had a 1.77 goals-against average, .940 save percentage and a shutout in those five contests. Hutton also posted a 6-0-1 record when facing at least 35 shots in 2013-14.
Never drafted, Hutton spent time with Adirondack, Worcester and Rockford of the American Hockey League and Toledo of the ECHL from 2010-13 before making his NHL debut on April 27, 2013 with Chicago. The 6-1, 195-pound netminder played four seasons at UMass-Lowell (Hockey East) from 2006-10, ending his collegiate career as the school’s all-time leader in goals-against average (2.33), save percentage (.913) and shutouts (10). He is on Twitter @CarterHutton.