Player Report Card: Carter Hutton
In a season with low expectations, Hutton failed to meet them
Total Season Stats: 12 Wins | 3.18 GAA | .898 SV%
Contract Status: Signed through 2021
What is there to say about Carter Hutton that hasn’t already been said? The statistics speak for themselves. Hutton is an aged goaltender who had his worst season as a professional. By the end of the season, Hutton was playing so poorly that Jonas Johansson stole six starts from him, and managed a better goals against average.
There weren’t many people who thought Hutton would be able to hold on to the starting job through this three-year contract when he signed on with the Sabres. Despite the fact that Hutton was largely a career backup, he was an upgrade for Buffalo after letting Robin Lehner go, and has served his purpose, for the most part. He’s filled a gap while a string of younger goaltenders develop into NHL-ready netminders. So far, he’s ushered Linus Ullmark to his first starting gig, and while there is a lot of growing remaining for Ullmark, he has certainly found himself as the solid number one.
Which leaves us with Hutton. His even strength save percentage is below .900. His quality save percentage is below .500. Hockey reference has a stat called ‘really bad starts.’ Hutton had seven. He started in 30 games, so he had ‘really bad starts’ in 25% of his games.
It is true that the Buffalo defense wasn’t much of a help. The issues the team has on the back end are well documented and may have contributed to the goaltender’s poor performance, but Hutton had the eighth-worst goals against average of any NHL goalie with 15 or more games played. He had the seventh-worst save percentage. His goals saved above average was -10.99. It’s difficult to defend almost anything about Hutton’s season. It’s possible that a city that had Dominik Hasek and Ryan Miller has some high expectations for their goalies, but it’s unlikely that is causing the fans’ disappointment with the way that Hutton is performing in the waning moments of his career.
The fact of the matter is that the team could rarely depend on Hutton to make a save when it was needed, and for a squad that is trying very hard to develop an identity, that is something they really needed.
In the end, expectations weren’t necessarily high for Hutton, and yet, it feels like he failed to reach them. It’s unfortunate that things turned out this way, because management has a real decision to make - are they in a position to cut Hutton loose and find a viable backup? He’s one of the lower-teir netminders of the league at this point, and it seems like this is exactly what they’ll have to do.