Saturday, September 24, 2016

Hutton calls signing with Blues a no-brainer

Goalie will back up Jake Allen after 
three seasons playing for division rival Nashville

ST. LOUIS -- Carter Hutton didn't have the Blues on his radar early in the off-season.

But the netminder saw an opportunity when the Blues traded Brian Elliott to the Calgary Flames, and it was a chance to join a team he's never beaten before.

So when the Blues came calling, needing a backup goalie for starter Jake Allen, Hutton, 30, wasted little time in joining his third team -- all in the Central Division -- when he signed a two-year, $2.25 million contract.
Carter Hutton

"It was a no-brainer for me. It's a great team," Hutton said. "It's one of those things, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. I've had so many tough nights here playing such a good team. They either beat you with size or they beat you with skill. They're so deep. Looking at last year, their run, they got over the hump a bit when they beat Chicago and going deep. They could take a lot of positives. So for me, coming (in) with a kid like Jake, who I know well, played against him in the minors, a great up-and-coming goalie, I think coming here was a better fit for me. With Pekka (Rinne in Nashville), it was hard to ever get any minutes no matter what I did, which is understandable. He was the guy. For me it was the time to make my move and St. Louis was a perfect fit."

A Thunder Bay, Ontario native, Hutton was 0-2-3 lifetime against the Blues, and now that he signed in St. Louis, his NHL career has come full circle.

Hutton made his NHL debut here in 2012 with the Chicago Blackhawks and lost 3-1 to the Blues, who needed to the victory in the final regular season game to get home ice advantage in the first round of the Stanley Pup Playoffs.

"I was playing with the Hawks, something I don't like to bring up in these parts," Hutton said. "But just a short stint. I think there were like seven of us playing from Rockford and (the Blues) were playing for home ice with the Kings, so that was a rude awakening for me in the NHL, but it was fun. You take your first game any way you can get it and we obviously moved on to Nashville and now we're here so it's great.

"When I left Chicago to come to Nashville, Nashville pushed for me and there was nothing for me at that point. That was the team I was going to go to. This year we had offers. You weigh out, you start weighing opportunity vs. teams vs. all these different situations. St. Louis wasn't really on the radar for us with Brian and Jake here and then all of the sudden, Friday night at the draft, things changed quickly. My agent gets approached and things get moved and next thing you know, they jump right to the top of the list. For me, it was a no-brainer. They're such a good team, such a good organization and I want to win. I want to come somewhere where we have the depth to do it and I want to be a part of that."

Hutton and Allen only knew each other from playing against one another in the AHL, so when Hutton arrived in St. Louis, it was important to build a rapport with his new partner.

"I think coming in here early and getting on the ice with (goalie coach Jim Corsi) was huge," Hutton said. "Kind of get a feel for the lay of the land. When camp starts, you're comfortable with the staff  and with the players. With Jake, I've heard such good things. You come and get to know him. You play with so many different characters. Everybody has a different personality, but he was very welcoming right away. I think our first weekend, he had us out for dinner, my girlfriend and I with his girlfriend. That makes a difference. Sometimes it's getting away from the rink and being able to sit down. A different setting away from hockey. Hockey is one thing; we can sit and talk about equipment and style of play. The way you are away from the rink, I think really starts to make a friendship and make a good tandem. I think right away, he displayed that and obviously that's huge because you're coming here not knowing that many people. For him to go out of his way to welcome me and make me a part of it is important for me and my family."

Allen, who got a new contract extension (four years, $17.4 million) this summer, already likes his new partner.

"He seems like a great guy," Allen said of Hutton. "I've heard great things about him. I played against him a lot in the minors for a long time. He was at Rockford, I was at Peoria. I know his game well. I obviously got to see him at Nashville a lot the last couple years. He's a great goalie and will be a great teammate for us and a great addition.

"He's been in the league longer than I have. He's been around Pekka Rinne, one of the best in the league for a long time. He knows what it takes. All you hear about is he's such a great teammate to the guys. I know some guys know him away from the rink a little bit more than I do and have just had nothing but good things to say. It's going to be a good addition to our team and he's going to do great things for us."

Hutton, who trains in the off-season with Blues defenseman and fellow Thunder Bay native Robert Bortuzzo, is 33-24-12 with a 2.56 goals-against average and .910 save percentage during a NHL career of three-plus seasons. His best season was his first full year with Nashville in 2011-12 when Hutton was 20-11-4 with a 2.62 GAA and .910 save percentage.

He understands the situation and knows he's the veteran buffer for Allen when needed.

"I understand it. I've been in this role before," Hutton said. "But I think for me, they expect a lot more out of me (in St. Louis) from a veteran standpoint, too, coming in, pushing Jake and keeping him honest but also helping him. This is all for the benefit of the team. So far, so good. Jake and I got to know each other pretty quick here. Playing against him, he's a great kid. I look forward to the season.
(file photo)
Carter Hutton will back up Jake Allen in St. Louis for the next two seasons.

"I also weighed the fact that I wasn't going to go anywhere and get a No. 1 job. You have to be realistic, too. I wanted to go somewhere where I had the best chance to play and to win. A happy medium with both. We sat down and looked at every year and every city. We felt that this was the best fit for me and I'm just pumped to be here."

Hutton will make his Blues debut and play the third period Sunday when the Blues open preseason play with a split-squad game at noon at Scottrade Center against the Columbus Blue Jackets; Allen will start and play the first two periods.

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