The Toronto Maple Leafs had already acquired some depth at forward and in net, but there was still a need to shore up the defensive group. They’ve done that now, as Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reports that the Maple Leafs have acquired Ben Hutton from the Anaheim Ducks. Frank Seravalli of TSN tweets that it will be a 2022 fifth-round pick going back to Anaheim.
Hutton, 27, has been connected to Toronto in the past but signed a one-year $950K contract with the Ducks this season where there was a much easier path to playing time. He has suited up in 34 games this season, but will likely be facing a fight for playing time in Toronto. He should put some pressure on Travis Dermott for that bottom-pairing role next to Zach Bogosian, but more importantly gives the Maple Leafs some insurance in case of injury.
There’s a lot of things Hutton can do, as he has contributed on both the powerplay and penalty kill throughout his career, but he doesn’t have a standout skill that helps him force his way into the lineup. He’s big but not overly physical, a good skater but not an excellent one, and a capable puck-mover but not a dynamic offensive presence. The Maple Leafs will certainly take that kind of depth, but it’s hard to say their group really improved with the deal.
For the Ducks, cashing in Hutton was a no-brainer, even if he only landed a fifth-round pick. The team has plenty of young defense coming and is still collecting draft picks for the rebuild.