Better late than never, huh Ben Hutton? With most NHL teams trimming their training camp rosters down considerably over the past few days, the Anaheim Ducks have gone in the other direction. CapFriendly reports that the team has extended a PTO to veteran free agent defenseman Hutton. With Hutton unlikely to suit up for the Ducks tonight, he will have only two preseason games and just over a week of camp to prove he can stick with the team before they open the regular season on October 13.
The timing of this late tryout offer could imply that is is simply a precursor to a signing, merely getting Hutton into camp while the two sides hammer out the fine print on a contract. After all, it is not as if Anaheim is unaware of what Hutton brings to the table. The 28-year-old blue liner began the 2020-21 campaign with the Ducks after signing a one-year deal in free agency (another late-offseason deal). Hutton skated in 34 games with the team, recording five points and over 18:30 of ice time per night, before he was dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a fifth-round pick. Hutton is an experienced defender who was logging major minutes and recording substantial minutes with the Vancouver Canucks not too long ago and would easily bolster a shallow Anaheim defense corps at a cheap price.
With that said, Hutton’s numbers have been on decline for years now and he did next to nothing with Toronto following last season’s trade. This PTO may simply be a courtesy by the Ducks to see if Hutton has any gas left in the tank and to let other teams take a look at his game in preseason action. While likely still a capable competitor, Anaheim may be better off going with younger options such as Josh Mahura or even Axel Andersson over Hutton, especially knowing that they do have some solid call-up options in Brendan Guhle, Brogan Rafferty, and Greg Pateryn. Hutton will have to show that he is a significantly superior option to any of these players if he wants to lock down a job with Anaheim.