Ed. Note: From August 21st through September 16th, we will be providing previews for each player for the 2013-14 season. In no specific order, today we continue with Carter Hutton…
|Carter Hutton’s last 3 seasons|
2012-13 in review:
Carter Hutton spent most of the 2012-13 season with the Rockford Ice Hogs, Chicago’s AHL affiliate. In 51 games he put up modest numbers: a 2.72 GAA and .908 save percentage while sporting a 26-22-1 record.
One of the reasons why the Predators signed Hutton in the off-season was his quality performances against Milwaukee. He posted a 5-2-1 record in eight head-to-head contests with a 2.00 GAA and .935 save percentage.
Hutton made his NHL debut on Apr. 27 in the Blackhawks’ season finale against St. Louis. He was hooked with the loss in that game – a meaningless game in the standings for Chicago – surrendering three goals on 28 shots.
Burning question for 2013-14: Can Hutton be a consistent NHL backup?
It’s fair to say the signing of Hutton on July 5 was out of left field. With Pekka Rinne coming off hip surgery and quite possibly participating in February’s Olympics, most expected the Predators to sign an experienced backup goaltender that could be more reliable than Chris Mason was in 2012-13. But they signed Hutton, a 27-year-old goalie with one game of NHL experience.
There are reasons to believe Hutton will work out as Rinne’s backup. First, and most importantly, Predators goaltenders coach Mitch Korn was an advocate of the team signing Hutton. It’s difficult to go against Korn’s judgment. Secondly, Hutton could be the latest under-the-radar backstop to bounce around in the minors and then succeed in Nashville (Tomas Vokoun, Chris Mason and Dan Ellis).
Contrarily, there is uncertainty. Hutton may be able to be the solution for 10 games, but what about 15 if need be? 20? Will he be reliable enough to give Rinne the proper rest throughout the season? Hutton is unproven and doesn’t have flashy minor league numbers. Another thing to consider is there is no guarantee he will make the Predators’ opening night roster. In the form of 2011 second-rounder Magnus Hellberg, Hutton has competition for the backup job.
Obviously, the question of whether Hutton can be a consistent NHL backup is an unknown. But it’s a question he will need to start to answer once preseason games commence in two weeks.