2021-22 Player Review: Ben Hutton made the most of an unexpected opportunity
When the Golden Knights suffered injuries on the blue line, Hutton stepped in to help fill the void.
In the 2021-22 Player Review series, we will evaluate the 2021-22 performances of each key member of the Golden Knights. Players were evaluated based on overall performance in the regular season with regard to pre-season expectations and how that player performed in his particular role.
Ben Hutton is a bit of an NHL journeyman. The 29-year-old defenseman has been around the block a few times with 437 NHL games under his belt, and since 2018, he’s played for five different teams including the Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, Toronto Maple Leafs and, of course, the Vegas Golden Knights. When the Golden Knights signed Hutton to a one-year, $750,000 contract in October, they probably weren’t expecting much from the Brockville, Ontario native. But fast forward a few months and his solid play earned himself a two-year extension.
Season in review
Hutton likely wasn’t even on most Golden Knights fans’ radar even after he was signed, but with the abundance of injuries on Vegas’ back end, he ended up playing quite a bit. As a “plug and play” type defenseman, Hutton spent time with just about every healthy defender on the roster. He most notably formed pairings with Alex Pietrangelo, Zach Whitecloud and Dylan Coghlan throughout the season, and while he never did much to get fans out of their seats, he did manage to play a steady game that helped fill the numerous voids.
With three goals and 13 total points in 58 games this season, Hutton played about as well as one could possibly hope a midseason free agent signing would play. He wasn’t flashy and his lack of offensive potential is evident, but he played well enough to earn a two-year, $1.7 million extension with the Golden Knights.
Hutton made the most of the opportunity the Golden Knights gave him, and with a new contract in hand, he’ll be looking to retain his role on the roster as a depth defenseman. As the Golden Knights return to full health, though, that may not be the easiest task. Alex Pietrangelo, Alec Martinez, Shea Theodore, Brayden McNabb and Zach Whitecloud, barring injury, are all locks to make the opening night roster, and Nicolas Hague, Dylan Coghlan and several other youngsters are also hoping to earn more of a full-time opportunity in Vegas. Hutton is certainly capable of serving as the Golden Knights’ seventh defenseman, but he’ll have to pry that role from some of the youngsters’ cold, dead hands.
Knights On Ice grade: C+
How would you grade Hutton’s season?
All statistics courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, Evolving-Hockey and NHL.com.