The redemption of Ben Hutton is complete.
Or is it? Will he play as much tonight and in the coming games as he has been the last month?
Hosting the LA Kings on Tuesday night head coach Travis Green chose to use “Hutty’ as a top pairing defenceman. That’s been the pattern for more than a month.
When Canucks #1 Defenceman Alex Edler went out with injury on the 24th of October versus the Golden Knights, Hutton played over 29 minutes in that game. For the next month, Hutton was Green’s choice on the left side over Derek Pouliot and Green’s pet last year Michael Del Zotto. Hutty played 25, 23, 28, 22, and 25, minutes in the next run of games at home (except for Arizona). He did drop down to 20 and 19 minutes in the next two road games, although ironically he scored in both those games (and also got an assist on the second game, his lowest TOI since Edler’s injury).
During the month of November, Ben Hutton leads all defencemen in ice time. You read that right: even more than Chris Tanev.
Part of the increased TOI might have been that the Hutton/Gudbranson pairing finally went from
tire-fire, er “Hight Event” to reliable three zone pairing. Tanev is the shut down man, Stetcher is more offensively gifted, and that put the Hutton Gudbranson pairing on the ice more often than any other combination for over a month.
Time on Ice statistics from ESPN
Last game, when every left side D-man was healthy and there are both journeymen and promising youngsters waiting in the AHL, Hutton continued to be deployed in all situations and had more ice time than any Dman not named Edler, even with Gudbranson suddenly injured. In fact it was only because Edler is back on the first unit Power Play that kept his TOI ahead of Hutton (on 2PP) who played more 5v5 and the same PK time as Edler.
For this game against the Kings our boy Hutton was paired with Troy Stetcher, and the two of them played the most with the young gun scoring line of Goldobin-Pettersson-Boeser at more than 10 minutes of their approximately 15 minutes even strength. The next most common line was about 3 minutes with the veterans Rousel-Horvat-Gagner. Any way you number the lines, Hutton was out with the top forwards.
Hutton-Stecher got some nice deployment with the offensively minded forwards, but they were not sheltered. While the Tanev-Del Zotto pair were tasked with shutting down the Kopitar line (usually with the Horvat line), Hutton saw a steady diet of Kempe’s line for 8 minutes of 5v5, and equal parts of the Carter and Thompson lines at around 5 minutes each.
This game statistics from Natural Stat Trick
Tonight versus the Golden Knights (who put Edler onto the IR), it’s expected that the Hutton-Stetcher pair will remain intact, and Beggsy even lists them first in the game preview.
I’m going to say that this couple of young guys who project as middle pairing on an average team are tonight’s top pairing. Normally I’d say the top pairing is whoever plays with Edler, but I also say Biega is always the bottom pair so let’s go with the NM wisdom.
Based on the shaky logic in this article, I’m going to say that Hutton will play more than 22 minutes tonight, and will average that over the month of December. What say you?
Ben Hutton’s TOI average for December
This poll is closed
Over 22 minutes
Under 22 minutes
For double the bragging rights: EXACTLY 22 minutes