I suppose there’s one thing that’s obvious in the NHL — the lack of undersized defensemen. Sure, there are more than ever before ,but it’s still a small amount. Lane Hutson has some great attributes, and maybe he can be another defenseman that beats the odds and becomes an NHL regular.
Let’s explore what Hutson can do well, which is handling the puck and being creative in the offensive zone. Hutson’s teammates understand his importance to the NTDP’s success this past season, and a few of them let me know that this season.
“He’s so smart. So gifted offensively,” said teammate Isaac Howard. “Every time I’m on the ice with him, he’s always able to make that play and find me. I think some knock his size; from what I’ve seen, it hasn’t been an issue.”
His Height Will Be An Issue
He’s 5-8, around 159 pounds (that’s up from 148), and yet he still seems a bit slight of frame. Maybe he will grow a few inches like his father (who is 5-11); that’s possible. Before we talk about his offense, let’s talk about his defense.
Hutson is quick to the puck, and he takes good angles. I have seen him save some goals, but he’s not a rock-solid defender. He does play in short-handed situations, and according to InStat, he’s won 60% of his puck battles. That has to continue as he moves up the ladder and the talent pool compresses.
Hutson knows how to use his terrific stick and puck control to get past traffic and find that teammate for a scoring chance. The Boston University commit does this regularly. This blueliner knows how to walk the line and then fire off a solid wrist shot on net. InStat says he hits the net 53% of the time! However, his one-timer misses much more than his wrist shot.
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Let’s Talk About His Skating
Hutson’s skating is good but not great. He does make smart zone entries, and that helps set up his offense. The worry here is, if he doesn’t get faster, will he still find the space? His acceleration is what helps him, for sure.
His Puck Possession is Solid
Hutson can control the puck. Once he has it, it’s hard to get it away from him. He draws penalties this way, which is valuable to a team since he’s going to be on the power play.
Hutson might go late in the first round or somewhere in the second. Teams watched Colorado with a very mobile defense and uber-talented Cale Makar, and they’ll try to copy some of that. Don’t get this twisted; I am not saying the two are comparable. What I am saying is I can see teams loading up on mobile, offensive-minded defensemen. As a result, that should help Hutson on draft day.
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