ST. LOUIS -- Goalie Carter Hutton knows his contract with the Blues will expire at 11:59 p.m. on June 30, and then he will have the option of choosing what's the next step of his career once July 1 hits.
And the way Hutton performed for the Blues in the 2017-18 season won't -- and shouldn't -- go unnoticed, and writing the next chapter of his NHL career won't last long.
|Blues goaltender Carter Hutton|
The 32-year-old teamed up with Jake Allen the past two seasons and in particular this past season, Hutton did all he could to keep the Blues afloat in their quest to keep their six-year playoff run alive, something they fell short of by one point.
Hutton went 17-7-3 in 32 games and led the NHL in goals-against average (2.09) and save percentage (.931) and in two seasons with the Blues after signing a two-year, $2.25 million contract on July 1, 2016, Hutton has a huge choice to make: search for greener pastures and gauge the market for his services if he's a No. 1 goaltender or not, or continue to tandem with -- at the present time -- Jake Allen and keep that solid foundation moving forward.
Hutton talks about his uncertain future, his season with the Blues, the injury that derailed the likelihood of him having the majority of the starts down the stretch, if he'd welcome a return back to St. Louis and his disappointment of the Blues not reaching the Stanley Cup playoffs:
Have you done enough to show other teams what you're capable of, because you've shown this one what you can do? What's your level of disappointment not reaching the playoffs?
I think I've done enough to definitely show that, especially a team, my age, I think for me the last two or three years I've been a strong goalie in this league and I think the last two years playing more games I've proved that, whether it's on a two week basis, whether it's on a nightly basis, I can sustain it. So now it's just a matter of what teams want, what teams need. There's such a unique market too. I think this year there isn't a ton of goalies available. I thought the No. 1 guy was [Antti] Raanta and he just signed and a couple of similar guys signed backup deals like [Aaron] Dell and [Darcy] Kuemper, so maybe I'm like a hybrid of those two. Raanta's played more minutes and sustained in Arizona where Kuemper and Dell haven't played a ton of minutes and I think I have more experience. It's going to be interesting to see what teams want and need from my perspective. But I haven't really done a ton of homework yet. I feel like, I tried to engulf myself in what we were doing, in our culture, in the St. Louis Blues and helping this team win, whether I was on the bench or any way I could. I think I was a good teammate in that sense I tried to support Jake [Allen] as much as possible. I've made that very clear from Day 1. The overall team doing well is better for everybody. Standing here I'm thoroughly disappointed we didn't make it and partly embarrassed because I think we are a playoff team. We're not in the playoffs, but I truly think we are a playoff team, so it's even more frustrating. So now I recollect and I'm sure over the next little bit, me and my agent will make some decisions and paint a picture of what it's like right now in the market.
Can you discuss what exactly was your injury in March?
I herniated a disk in my neck, C5, C6. I messed it up. My MRI showed it up. I don't think we wanted to make it into something bigger than it was. Until I got that in place, I couldn't really do much. What they thought was little tears over time and then I just ruptured it. It was hitting into my spinal cord so then I needed, they just needed it to heel, and then once it healed … Every day I would leave the rink, get treatment, come back, play the games or practice. It was a hectic schedule but now a full recovery, I don't have issues. It's more I think moving forward a training thing, I'll just have to adjust some things the way I take care of myself, training in the gym and being cautious with it. I was sore in the morning and then I made a save, a quick look up to my right, and that's when it went, and all of a sudden, I told them, and we were optimistic because we didn't know at the time and I went to the hotel that day, I got up, I couldn't even move. We were on the road so I couldn't get an MRI. I came back in Anaheim, the doctors gave me some medication to get better, but it was only a five-day scrip, once that ended, that's when I back down again. It's never a good time to get hurt. That's why it wasn't just a sore neck it was an issue, but that's the way it goes.
Have any thoughts about where you want to go? Are you ready to be a No. 1?
I don't know what I'm going to do. Truthfully, I'm going to play it by ear. I think right now it's a good time to reflect on the season. It was obviously very disappointing the way we missed the playoffs. It's frustrating, but reflecting on the season, it was a strong individual season. It doesn't really make things easier right now; obviously we should be playing, so it's tough to swallow, but for me, we'll re-evaluate with my family, my agent, see where they stand where they're at and go from there.
What do you think is ideal for you?
I just think getting a contract … The last two seasons I've proved my value. It's a comparable league. It's the way that it works. It's a real estate market kind of thing. If you have statistics, stats kind of drive the league. I've proved that I can play in my eyes. It's a big reason I left Nashville because I wanted to play more minutes and I think I've shown that here. Whether it was once every 10 days or four times every 10 days, I've kind of sustained that. I did a good job this year carrying the load when I needed to. I did a good job of being a good teammate when I needed to. There's obviously a lot to take in. It's obviously … I haven't done a ton of analyzing it. I think my agent and I will do that and see where we're at. Right now, I was just involved in trying to get this team to the playoffs and fully putting the team before myself but now over the next few weeks we'll sit back and reflect on it and see where we're at and see where they're at. We didn't really talk a whole heck of a lot because we were worried about winning. The last thing I needed to do was be worried about a contract and I'm not going anywhere. Right now, if I'm going to sign anywhere, it's going to be here, whether it was last week or a month from now. The main thing was trying to get this team in the playoffs and now we can sit back and go over why we missed it and what's best for me and my family.
Would you welcome a return back to the Blues?
Of course. I love it here. My wife loves it here. We've made a lot of good friends, our son was born here, I love the fans, I feel like I've got a ton of support here. We've got a really good hockey team and I don't think just because this year went this way that that's going to change. I think that's just going to light a fire under everybody heading into summer. I want to be back but there's so many other things to consider and I think time right now is what it's going to take to figure that out. But right now I'm very optimistic for sure.
How would you classify your season?
Timing is everything. It's something that … I didn't try to get too caught up in it while I was playing. I really focused on winning hockey games. I think if you can win games, the rest takes care of itself, but from a statistics standpoint, if they're going to keep track, it's obviously a good thing to be in first. It's one of those things. I thought I did everything I could to help our team win and looking back, I put myself in a good situation heading into being a free agent and the way the market is.