Hutton proved he belonged in NHL

As a member of the St. Louis Blues in 2017-18, Thunder Bay’s Carter Hutton led all qualified NHL netminders in both goals-against average (2.09) and save percentage (.931). Photo:

back at the career of the recently retired Carter Hutton, his rise into a bona fide National Hockey League goaltender began to take shape in 2013, after he signed on with the Nashville Predators.

Just prior to that though, his involvement with the Chicago Blackhawks AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, and late call-up to the parent club proved to be a memorable experience for him.

“Chicago was a cool team to be apart of. I was up and down in the AHL and NHL, but in 2013 I was able to be a part of the Stanley cup run and seeing it first-hand is something I will always cherish; as well as the Stanley Cup ring from that season.”

Heading to Nashville a few months later, Hutton’s mettle would get a true test early on with Predators’ No. 1 netminder Pekka Rinne being out for an extended time with a lengthy hip injury.

Doing his part, Hutton was solid for Nashville, starting 34 times and collecting 20 victories while making 40 appearances overall.

This featured him collecting his initial NHL victory, making 38 saves in a 3-1 road triumph over the Winnipeg Jets back on October 20, 2013.

“That first NHL win in Winnipeg, and having my parents there, was definitely a special moment for me,” offered Hutton on the feat.

Later that same season, he won each of his last six starts, that included registering his opening NHL shutout, a 35-save whitewashing in a 3-0 away decision at the San Jose Sharks.

In all, he spent three seasons with the Predators, earning 33 wins overall.

“Nashville really was the start to my full-time NHL career,” stated Hutton on his time in Music City, USA.

“The fans and atmosphere at every game was so intense and faithful that really made my three seasons there memorable. We won a playoff game in triple overtime against San Jose, which ended around 2 a.m. That had to be one of the coolest games to be a part of.”

Next came a two-year stint with the St. Louis Blues.

None was more impressive than his run with the Blues during the 2017-18 campaign where he led all qualified NHL netminders in both goals-against average and save percentage at 2.09 and .931 respectively.

Reflecting on the accomplishment, Hutton offered: “Obviously it was a great achievement looking back now, knowing the talent in the NHL goaltending position.”

His tenure there truly established his position between the pipes, winning 35 times.

“St. Louis felt like the peak of my career,” Hutton said. “I played more games and made a name for myself. Playing in the Winter Classic outdoor game at Busch Stadium, with family and friends in attendance, was an experience I’ll never forget.

Playing alongside another fellow Thunder Bay product was also something he cherished with the Blues.

“St. Louis had such a solid team and D-core, including Robert Bortuzzo, a good friend of mine, which helped me have that personal successful season.”

His efforts pacing NHL goalkeepers was definitely something he looked to keep in check though.

“In the moment I tried to separate myself from the stats and league-lead by just taking it day-by-day,” Hutton recalled. “I didn’t want to get caught up in the chase of that stat. That season my wife Stacey and I just had our first child, so I really left hockey at the rink and was immersed in my family and kept my mind off that and the pressure of a looming contract year.

That new deal would eventually come about though as he continued to solidify his role as an NHL stopper, and earned a three-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres.

That produced 31 more victories to add to his ledger while part of a rebuilding squad.

Hutton had nothing but praise for Sabres’ faithful in his stint there: “In Buffalo, we never really got the results we wanted, but the fan base and community loved the team. We had a 10-game winning streak as a young team and for myself, getting eight wins in a row, was a big accomplishment personally.”

Finishing up his NHL tenure with the Arizona Coyotes this past season, an early ankle injury took its toll, which eventually led to his retirement from the game after finishing up with the Toronto Maple Leafs organization.

Next week: A final look back at Hutton’s NHL career.