Among this year’s free agent goaltending crop, Carter Hutton stands out as a name that could potentially take over a starting role. The 32-year old is coming off an incredible season with the St. Louis Blues, and had been reportedly in talks with as many as eight teams on the first day of the free agent negotiating period. Now, Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic (subscription required) reports that group is down to just six teams.
LeBrun adds that even those six are broken into two tiers, depending on whether or not they’ll give Hutton a chance to fight for the starting role. The teams he’s sure of are the Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders. All four are unsurprising contenders, as they all are dealing with uncertain goaltending situations as they head into next season. Craig Custance of The Athletic (subscription required) also links the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings to Hutton, and adds that the Blues expressed interest in retaining him at the end of the year.
Hutton registered a .931 save percentage this season in 32 appearances, and continued to show why he’s considered one of the best backups in the league. His career save percentage is now up to .915, and he carries a 63-39-17 record. It’s hard to imagine a team giving him a big money, long-term contract, but it’s clear that he deserves more than the $1.125MM he’s averaged over the last two seasons.
In Buffalo, Carolina and New York he’d likely be given a chance to be a starting goaltender, as Linus Ullmark, Scott Darling and Thomas Greiss haven’t yet proven they can handle the full load. In Chicago, where Corey Crawford’s health is still up in the air, they need to find an option they can rely on. Any interest from Boston and Detroit would likely be as a backup for Tuukka Rask or Jimmy Howard, though each have shown some inconsistency in the past. Howard is also on the final year of his current contract, meaning Detroit will need someone to step in should he head to another team next summer.