W hen Nashville decided not to re-sign goaltender Chris Mason, it became imperative for the team to resolve the back-up situation.
While Magnus Hellberg appears to have the chops to eventually become part of the Predators goaltending tandem, he may not quite be ready. Even if he does end up ready, Nashville still requires a third man to hang back in Milwaukee.
Thus, on Friday, Nashville signed goaltender Carter Hutton to a 1-year, 2-way NHL contract worth $550,000 at the NHL level.
“We needed a backup goaltender and we believe that Carter Hutton is the young man to do that and he’s ready for that role,” Predators general manager David Poile said.
“Carter Hutton is 27 years of age, he’s played the last 2 years with the (Rockford Ice Hogs),” Poile added. “We got to watch him many, many times. In the American Hockey League, it’s an unbalanced schedule and it seems like Milwaukee and Rockford play every other game. He kind of kept beating us and beating us and we’ve watched him a lot.”
Hutton has bounced around between NHL parent clubs, spending time with the Sharks, Flyers and, most recently, the Blackhawks organization. He made his NHL debut this season in the Blackhawks regular season finale against St. Louis, letting in 3 goals on 28 shots in the 3-1 loss. However, Nashville seems most impressed by the set of tools that Hutton brings to the table.
“He really moves the puck tremendously,” Poile said. “He’s a very exciting goalie to watch.”
Undrafted, Hutton came up through UMass-Lowell of the NCAA, spending 4 years with the program. In 4 AHL seasons, Hutton has a record of 68-52 with 7 shutouts and a .914 save percentage. As Poile stated, Hutton absolutely dominated the Milwaukee Admirals, racking up a 13-4 record against the Predators affiliate.
“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.