Carter Hutton was signed during the first day of free agency to back up Pekka Rinne this season for the Nashville Predators, but can he handle the pressure?
Previous Season Stats
2012-2013 NHL: 1 GP, 0-1-0, .893 Sv%, 3.05 GAA
2012-2013 AHL: 51 GP, 26-22-1, 2 shutouts, .908 Sv%, 2.72 GAA
Last season, Hutton was the clear number one choice for the Rockford IceHogs, Chicago’s AHL affiliate. Getting the bulk of the carries ahead of Henrik Karlsson, Alec Richards, and Kent Simpson, Hutton finished the season for the IceHogs with a record of 26-22-1 including two shutouts. Unfortunately for Hutton and the IceHogs, it wasn’t enough for them to earn a playoff berth. While the IceHogs season ended on April 20th to Texas, only one sport below the Milwaukee Admirals in the standings for eighth place in the Western Conference, Hutton was promoted up to Chicago to finish the season two days prior in place of the injured Ray Emery. In his first and only NHL start, Hutton gave up three goals in a 3-1 loss to St. Louis on April 27th. Hutton’s performance, although not stellar in the NHL, earned him a one-year two-way contract with the Predators worth $550,000 at the NHL level.
Even though the Predators have seemingly already anointed Hutton as Rinne’s backup for the season, one could make a case that Hutton’s inexperience at the NHL level could be a bit of a problem for Nashville. As he does only have one NHL game to his statistics, the enigmatic Hutton is certainly a question mark in goal for the upcoming 2013-2014 season. However, the coaching staff has seen enough of Hutton to know he’s ready for the job. From our own Patten Fuqua:
“He’s 27, he’s been in the minors, he’s had a lot of success, he has great tools,” Predators head coach Barry Trotz said. “This player has the tools to be successful at the National Hockey League level. He’s at the right age at 27 where he’s had a lot of games under his belt – a lot of experience. It’s no different than Corey Crawford in Chicago. He’s really not that far along in a National Hockey League career, but he’s spent a long time in the minors.”A bit of a surprise signing in terms of the role he is expected to play, Trotz compared Hutton to other Predators goaltenders who quietly ended up on the roster and became key parts of the organization’s success: Tomas Vokoun, Dan Ellis and Anders Lindback. As with those goalies, Poile and Trotz believe they have found another diamond in the rough and made sure to vet him properly.“We went through a lot of work with (goaltending coach) Mitch Korn and this is the guy we wanted to sign,” Poile said.
The jury will be out on Hutton until he gets a couple real tests in front of him as the season unfolds. With a healthy Rinne and a confident Hutton, though, Nashville could experience the benefits of having a strong one-two punch in their goaltending lineup just as they did when Anders Lindback was with the team.
While not his best performance, Hutton’s first career NHL start against the Blues was most likely a game he’d like to forget:
Photo Credit: Rockford IceHogs Flickr
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