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Canadiens Prospect Hutson’s Impact On The Team And Slafkovsky

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Canadiens Prospect Lane Hutson

As we await signing news regarding Lane Hutson and his entry-level contract, we have time to take a look at what the top prospect can bring to the table for the Montreal Canadiens.

Update: Hutson Has Signed His Entry-Level Contract With the Montreal Canadiens

Lane Hutson Potential Impact

Hutson is a dynamic player who possesses elite hockey vision.

He is known for walking the blueline in the NCAA, allowing his teammates to take advantage of the time and space he creates during every shift.

The top prospect at the 2024 NHL Entry Draft, Macklin Celebrini, knows firsthand how his Boston University teammate attracts defensive coverage with his quick dekes and quick net drives.

Celebrini is clearly a very talented player, but he’ll be the first to admit playing with Hutson this year is one of the main reasons he managed to score 32 goals in 38 games as a 17-year-old freshman.

Hutson will have to be a little more selective with his plays now that he’s in the NHL. The NCAA has a high level of competition, but there’s much more time and space to execute plays in the NCAA compared to the AHL or NHL.

A defensive partner with a high defensive acumen is also in order.

Hutson has improved his defensive play significantly in the last two years, to the point that he was trusted with crucial defensive assignments at both the World Championship and the World Junior Championship.

But like any prospect, he still has to work on his game if he’s to establish a presence as an elite player in the NHL.

His gap control and positioning have improved by leaps and bounds, which means his rush defence has also gotten better in the last two years, but you’d be hard-pressed to argue it’s a strength.

For now, we can qualify it as a weakness, at least compared to the other aspects of his game which would easily qualify as elite.

He will also have to be careful when it comes to holding onto the puck for too long.

We saw it happen on a few occasions this year. When Boston University was struggling to generate chances, Hutson would take it upon himself to generate a controlled exit, a controlled entry, a deep drive into the offensive zone, and, ideally, a great pass that would set up one of his teammates with a grade ‘A’ scoring chance. If there’s no teammate available, he does not hesitate to take a shot from a high-danger scoring area.

For the most part, these plays were incredibly efficient in changing the momentum during a game, but there is a downside to his offensive prowess.

Hutson carries the puck a lot. This means he will lose it on occasion. It’s perfectly normal for a puck-moving defenseman, but it is also the type of play that leads to poor optics.

A mobile defenceman can make 100 nice plays in a row, but if he loses the puck deep in the offensive zone the complaints will start to flow. We’ve seen as much in Montreal when players such as P.K. Subban or Jeff Petry played for the Habs.

It all comes down to making the right decision, and perhaps becoming a little more selective now that he’s no longer playing against college defenders.

Hutson had more skill than almost every player he faced in the NCAA, this allowed him to take a lot of risks with the puck on his blade. That won’t be the case in the NHL.

Lane Hutson Powerplay Potential

The Montreal Canadiens have had an awful powerplay since the moment they decided to move on from Andrei Markov.

The good news is that Hutson projects as an impact player that can also serve as a powerplay quarterback.

He’s left-handed, just like Mike Matheson, but he doesn’t have tunnel vision when evaluating his options during the man-advantage. You’ll note Celebrini is almost always situated at the hash marks on the right side of the ice during his scoring plays for Boston University.

That’s exactly where Canadiens forward Juraj Slafkovsky is used when the Canadiens head to the powerplay. Of course, Slafkovsky doesn’t connect on one-timer shots with the same ferocity and efficiency as Celebrini, but he’s certainly shown potential to become a sustained threat from the right circle.

Hutson’s presence will almost surely improve Slafkovsky’s powerplay prowess.