Defence prospect Ben Hutton will forgo his final year of college hockey and has signed an entry-level contract with the Vancouver Canucks.
Hutton is a 6’3″ 200-pound offensive minded defenceman who was selected by the Canucks in the 5th round of the 2012 NHL Draft.
Hutton actually played forward until he was 16, which may help explain his offensive prowess as Mark Emmert of the Portland Press Herald explains:
Hutton grew up playing forward, and it shows. He didn’t make the switch to defense until age 16, when his junior team, Kemptville of the Central Canada Hockey League, was underperforming. Hutton told his coach that he thought he could be a bigger factor on the blue line, and the coach agreed.
Since becoming Canucks property, Hutton completed three seasons at the University of Maine, where his stock has risen dramatically.
The 21-year-old from Prescott, Ontario is a great skater and can deliver big bodychecks. Here’s how his coach described him last season:
“He’s got a great stick, and he’s got a great feel for the game. Obviously, he can skate,” Gendron said. “But there have been moments this year, on the penalty kill and other defensive situations, he’s been incredible. Basically, most nights he and Brice O’Connor play against the other team’s best players.”
Hutton was the highest scoring defenceman for his team in each of his three seasons at Maine. His 15 goals last season were the most from any defenceman in the NCAA.
While Hutton’s point totals took a bit of a dip this season, his overall body of work in three seasons of college hockey is impressive.
Here’s a scouting report from Jeff Cox, who covers college hockey for SB Nation:
Hutton, a 2013-14 All-American, saw his numbers regress in his third season in Orono, but he’s still a player with offensive upside from the blue line. The Prescott, Ontario native had nine goals and 12 assists in 39 games played this season. He finished his Black Bears career with 28 goals and 37 assists in 108 games.
Hutton had a better season in his own zone last season compared to this recent one where he struggled at times. He finished with a team worst -15 plus/minus and was caught flat-footed and out of position on numerous occasions. It’s possible a change of scenery and a move to the AHL will allow for his defensive game to develop further.
Hutton will report to the Utica Comets this season, where he will begin his pro career. Hutton turns 22-years-old next month, so he could be NHL-bound in the not too distant future.
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