Hutton: Buffalo was 'the right fit all around'

July 3, 2018

The NHL offseason is in full swing with the free agency period opening up league-wide on Sunday.

For the Buffalo Sabres, they made three new additions on the free agent market, with two of them coming in goal. The first goalie the organization signed was Scott Wedgewood to a one-year deal. He will be in competition for the starting job with the Rochester Americans in the AHL. The other goalie the team signed on Sunday was 32-year-old veteran netminder, Carter Hutton.

Hutton has been a consummate professional in the NHL for the past several years, spending time in the league with the Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues. In 138 games played in his NHL career, Hutton has served as a serviceable backup goalie with a .915 save percentage and a 2.42 goals-against average.

Last season with the Blues, Hutton put up career-high numbers with a 17-7-3 record, a 2.09 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage. Over the past two seasons in St. Louis, Hutton posted seven shutouts, while playing some key games to help shore up some of the Blues' goaltending struggles.

This offseason, Hutton became an unrestricted free agent and garnered some considerable interest from many teams around the NHL. However, he ended up landing with the Sabres on a three-year deal that will pay him an average annual salary of $2,75 million.

"For me, personally, it was the right fit all around," said Hutton with Jeremy White on Tuesday. "Career-wise, community-wise, family-wise, it all just made sense. I have some strong ties to Buffalo. Jerry Forton, Andrew Allen, Phil Housley. There's a comfort factor there coming in with guys who want me to succeed and they know who I am."

The Sabres decided to turn in a different direction in goal after finishing dead last in the NHL standings for the 2017-18 season. The team chose not to qualify Robin Lehner and let him walk to free agency, while also choosing not to re-sign backup Chad Johnson.

Hutton comes to a young Buffalo team that is looking to quickly turn things around in the near future. Upon having talks with the Sabres right before free agency opened, Hutton could see the potential this team has to turn it around and start winning some hockey games.

"This is a team here that hasn't had success over the last few years, and they're ready for that," Hutton said. "They have a lot of good, young players, so just to be part of that turnaround and to be here to help contribute is something I take pride in and I'm excited about."

One of those young pieces that Hutton is expected to split time with in goal this season is goalie Linus Ullmark. The 24-year-old is expected to make the jump to the NHL this season after spending a majority of the last three seasons with the Amerks. The former sixth round pick of the Sabres in the 2012 NHL Draft was exceptional in Rochester last year, posting a 21-12-4 record with a 2.44 goals-against average and a .922 save-percentage.

While Ullmark may be ready to make that jump to the Sabres, the goal for Hutton is to help the young goalie make a smooth transition to the NHL instead of being rushed straight in to the fire.

"We have talked about somewhere in the 50 range," Hutton said. "I think the main goal here is to have me come in here and help win hockey games, and be a guy who has had experience in this league, not to rush Ullmark and let him earn his stripes and to get better. At the same time, we can develop him at the right pace instead of getting him rushed in."

Late Sunday night, Hutton found out that he will have a trio of former teammates joining him in Buffalo after the Ryan O'Reilly trade to the Blues.

Buffalo traded O'Reilly to St. Louis in exchange for a 2019 first round pick and a 2021 second round pick, as well as forwards Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka, and Tage Thompson. Hutton was happy to hear that he will have some familiar names joining him in Buffalo for the upcoming season.

"I think that they're excited to know that I'm coming too," Hutton said. "I am familiar with them too, and it's going to be exciting. We've added some good players. It was a big blockbuster trade, but for me, knowing that those guys are coming, I know what they can bring to the table. I'm excited to have them on the team with me."

You can listen to Hutton's entire interview below: