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Canadiens Prospect Lane Hutson Improving All-Situations Play



Montreal Canadiens prospect Lane Hutson

Montreal Canadiens prospect Lane Hutson is among the 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, given to the top collegiate player in any given season.

Before anyone gets their hopes up, Hutson is unlikely to win the award.

The favourite happens to be the player that Hutson feeds perfect passes to every night, Macklin Celebrini.

But accolades aren’t important at this stage of Hutson’s career. He’s already collected a bevy of awards, to the point that he can probably spare a few of them and use them as shims to help level out his parents’ old basement freezer.

Hutson’s Production

Seeing as he had a record-setting freshman season, I had warned fans not to expect a significant uptick in offence from the talented blueliner. I also suggested it’s a possibility his production may go down.

It’s not that I didn’t believe in Hutson, but rather, improving upon one of the best seasons in league history is a difficult proposal, even for someone with his elite skill set.

That being said, Hutson has indeed managed to improve his production, albeit only slightly.

It’s not the first time I was wrong, and it definitely will not be the last.

You’ll note there’s a small dip in goal-scoring and a fairly healthy uptick in assists, which can once again be attributed to playing with someone like Celebrini.

montreal canadiens hutson

If you haven’t watched a Boston University game this season, you’re missing one of the deadliest duos in NCAA history.

Most of the plays follow the same script when they involve the top Montreal Canadiens prospect.

Hutson creates time and space by walking the blueline and drawing defenders toward him, while Celebrini gets into position to be able to unleash his deadly shot the moment the puck hits his blade.

Hutson’s Impact

The goal of this article is not to discredit Celebrini. He possesses one of the best releases I’ve seen in a very long time, and I have no doubt he will be a game-changer in the NHL.

In fact, I’d say he’s the exact type of player the Canadiens are missing in their lineup, and his pre-built chemistry with Hutson would likely improve the Habs tenfold.

But his presence in the Boston University lineup confirmed a few things.

The first is that whether Hutson is playing with middle-of-the-road players or elite talents, he will find a way to help his forwards score. He improves the play of all his teammates the moment he hits the ice.

The second is that players who are already in the Canadiens lineup and possess the ability to connect on one-timers, like Juraj Slafkovsky, will certainly benefit from a powerplay quarterback who can set them up with great scoring chances.

And finally, it also showed us that Hutson has more to his game than just offensive prowess. The influx of talent in the Terriers lineup meant that Hutson had to adapt his game to play a more responsible brand of hockey. Ask any of his coaches, and they’ll agree that Hutson took big strides in his defensive value.

We also have to keep in mind that he’s yet to spend much time with Canadiens development coach Adam Nicholas.

I wouldn’t go as far as suggesting he’s become an elite hybrid defenceman, but the rumours of his lack of defensive awareness appear to be greatly exaggerated.

He’s doing a much better job cutting off players on the rush, and he’s not getting pushed off the puck with ease, as was the case last season.

Fans will have to wait a little longer before seeing Hutson in a Canadiens uniform. There are regional division games left to win, and then there are healthy odds the Terriers will participate in the Frozen Four, which takes place on April 11-13.

We should also note that once he’s ready to sign his entry-level contract, Hutson will no longer be eligible to play in the AHL playoffs, since it will be well beyond the cutoff date. Therefore he’s going to be playing with the Montreal Canadiens, and not the Laval Rocket.

But once he does dip his toes in the frigid waters of professional hockey, Habs fans will quickly recognize that there’s more to Hutson’s game than just jaw-dropping offensive talent.