*Editors note: I wanted to give a brief thank you to anyone who has read anything on The Note Lives On so far in 2018. The responses have been positive especially on the new section “Cap Mania”. The original plans was to have a once a month post about a random players contract but I’ve been having way too much fun discussing it and I’m glad most of you are enjoying the ride as well.
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you look at Carter Hutton? The answer should be well after you notice his strong overall numbers is just how the St. Louis Blues will keep him. If that’s the plan that is. Some players contracts leave ripples through a locker room while others are hardly even noticed on twitter. Hutton is an UFA this summer and the decision the Blues make this offseason will speak volumes about their future.
Whatever the Blues decide to do shouldn’t be seen with a negative perspective. It doesn’t mean the woes with Jake Allen will continue. It also doesn’t mean that management doesn’t have faith in their prospects Ville Husso or Jordan Binnington. Both of which are having a strong season in the AHL by the way.
What makes Hutton’s contract such an important one is that the deal will shed some light to the rest of us just how the Blues see themselves.
There isn’t a black&white answer but if Hutton were to walk, this club will be getting that much younger. With Hutton not in the picture that would leave a spot open for (likely) Husso or Binnington. Between the three Allen is 27 and Husso being 23 and Binnington is just a year older then that. The Blues have been trending younger the past two seasons with it especially being apparent this year. A younger squad doesn’t mean hard times are on the horizon, you can still make the playoffs, but at the same time there will be growing pains.
So lets say the Blues re-sign the Thunder Bay native, his current deal being $1, 125,000. There are zero bonuses attached to the contract. With Hutton playing at such a high level, despite it being near impossible to keep up, will ensure him a decent size raise. Currently as it stands Hutton sits with an .943 save percentage along with a 1.74 goals against average. Add in his three shutouts (so far) and you’re looking at a very strong season for the 32 year old. For the Blues to keep Hutton the team will have to tread lightly. Just how much is left in the tank for the “backup”? That’s a question we won’t know the answer to until the decline begins or in an even worst case scenario, injuries begin to arise.
A short term extension for Hutton is the option I feel like most fans would like to see. Which would show that the Blues still feel like their Stanley Cup window is still open and that their prospects in the AHL aren’t too far off from being ready. Also it’s nice to have that blanket of security when Allen has another cold spell. Something he can’t shake for an entire duration of a season, just doesn’t look like it will ever happen.
Though as much as this option is the ideal one, it may not be exactly what Hutton wants for himself and his family. This is a business after all. When you compare his current deal to other goalies around the league per cap friendly, it matches up with: Anton Khudobin, Anti Raanta, Keith Kenkaid. Does Hutton see himself more valuable than the three listed? By looking at how he’s bailed out the Blues a number of times this season he should.
You’d have to magical powers to predict Hutton’s play this year and just how valuable he’s been. It’s incredibly hard to put a price tag on an aging goalie whose playing with house money. To find that right deal where both sides are happy. Not many people are talking about Hutton’s contract right now but they should be.