Defender Lane Hutson, the next star of the Canadiens?: “I often hear names for comparisons…”

Defender Lane Hutson, the next Canadiens star?: “I often hear names for comparisons...


BOSTON | There are choices that have the potential to turn into gold. A big nugget of gold. Word of Jay Pandolfo, head coach of the Boston University Terriers, the Canadian has a real gem in Lane Hutson.  

“Lane is on the right track. I don't just expect him to play in the NHL, but to become a very good defenseman. Really, a very good defender.”

Pandolfo is probably not impartial, but it's not just him who sees Hutson in his soup. 

Hutson n ever suffered from his short stature (5'10″ and 155 lbs) in his rookie season with the Terriers. The speedy left-handed defenseman led his team with 47 points (13 goals, 34 assists) in 36 games. 

He also sat at the top of all NCAA defensemen, even edging out Luke Hughes, the New Jersey Devils' fourth overall pick in 2021. 

With 47 points, he tied Brian Leetch's (1986-87) record for most points by a defenseman 19 or younger at the NCAA level. 

“When you look at his numbers, it's very impressive,” Pandolfo said. This is virtually unheard of for a rookie defenseman in the NCAA. And when you write your name next to Brian Leetch's, you're in good company. Leetch is a Hall of Famer.” 

But there are other stars in his notebook. The 2nd round choice of CH (62nd overall) last year is one of the ten finalists for the Hobey-Baker trophy, awarded to the player most useful to his team. He was also a finalist for the Hockey East division's MVP award (won by goaltender Devon Levi).

Reflecting the team

< p>Coming out of a just over 60-minute practice on the ice at Agganis Arena on the Boston University campus this morning, Hutson quickly sought to deflect reflectors on him to focus his talk on the team.&nbsp ;

“That's pretty cool,” Hutson said a bit shyly in an interview with Journal. But I couldn't do it without my teammates and my partners on the blue line. I play for a good team. Hockey is a team sport.” 

“I just wanted to help the team when I arrived at BU, he continued. I had no real expectations. I was lucky enough to play for good coaches and they pushed me from day one to improve. I also enjoy a lot of freedom, I can be myself on the ice.”

In the simple game of comparisons, Hutson had a better rookie season at the NCAA level than two of the best defensemen currently in the NHL, Adam Fox and Cale Makar. Fox had 40 points in 35 games at Harvard, while Makar had 21 points in 34 games at UMass-Amherst. 

While he describes Fox and Makar as inspirations, and even role models for their defensive play thanks to their positioning and their reading of the game, Hutson knows that he still has a very long way to go before knocking on the door of such a great career. 

“I often hear names for comparisons, but I remain calm, he replied. I'm just focused on winning with my team and having the longest possible route to the Frozen Four.” 

A basketball player

Pandolfo , a Stanley Cup winner in 2000 and 2003 with the Devils, looked in the direction of two other defensemen. 

“Lane can follow in the footsteps of a Torey Krug or Brian Rafalski. I managed Krug when I was an assistant in Boston and I played with Rafalski in New Jersey. He has the attacking side to compare to them. Krug and Rafalski, however, were a little more massive.” 

“I like to compare Lane to a point guard in basketball, he continued. He skates well and pulls off fakes so fast that he breaks several ankles on the ice. You can research and study ways to counter it, but the opposing team never fully succeeds. He's like a point player in the NBA.”

Two inches taller

In the days before the draft, Hutson would meet with the various NHL teams handing over medical reports to testify to late growth. When the CH claimed him in the last draft, he was 5'8″. 

Less than a year later, the American is 5'10″. He won't become the next Hal Gill, but he could still add an inch.

“I expect to grow a little bit more,” he predicted. My brother (Quinn) is 5'11″. I'm already at 5'10 and feeling great. When I jump on the ice, I find that we are all the same size.” 

“I gained a little weight. I weigh 164 lbs. I don't want to gain too much weight quickly and lose quickly. I have to be myself.” 

While a pick can become a bullion, a trade can also define a hockey man's career. CH GM Kent Hughes traded defender Brett Kulak to the Edmonton Oilers in March. With this choice, the Habs bet on Hutson in the second round. 

A winner at heart: Lane Hutson scored two goals in the Hockey East conference final

BOSTON | Lane Hutson has scored 14 goals this year, but he won't forget his two goals in the final against the Merrimack University Warriors last Saturday.

Author of the first goal of his team, Hutson also hit the target in overtime to give the Terriers a 3-2 victory in this meeting which crowned the champion of the Hockey East conference, which includes all the teams playing in New England. /p>

“If you had asked the question before the overtime to know who was to score the winning goal, several people would have answered Lane, said Jay Pandolfo in an interview with the Journal in a corridor of the Agganis Arena. I have a feeling Lane just keeps getting better and the higher the stakes get the better. »

“He thrives on pressure and he likes the big moments, continued the head coach of the Terriers. It's built that way. I noticed him on his first day with us in September. He has an extraordinary competitive spirit, both in training and matches. He always wants to win. We are lucky to bet on him.

Three days after that game, Hutson was still breathing happiness thinking about that moment.

“I was really excited and the crowd was overexcited, he recalled. I couldn't be happier. When you score a winning goal in overtime, it's always a special feeling. I found it even more brilliant to see the smile of my teammates after the goal. »

Defend with your head

If there is any doubt about his offensive qualities, Hutson will have to convince his future leaders in Montreal of his reliability in his own territory. At Boston University, the short 5'10″ defenseman finished atop his team with a +25 record. While this stat is debatable, it's an interesting sign.

“He's improving defensively,” Pandolfo said. I think he learned quickly to close space with attackers. He defends much better than at the start of the season. He is fast and he uses his brain. He is not the biggest, but he anticipates the game well and cuts passes with his positioning. I can also use it for big minutes, often more than 25 minutes. »

“At the NHL level, it’s difficult to defend. But I'm not nervous for Lane. It will get there. There is also a good thing with a defender as attacking as him. He will often have the puck on his paddle. When you control the puck, you are not defending your territory.

Hutson, who wouldn't talk about his plans for next year, identified areas where he needs to improve.

“I want to become stronger, faster, take even more shots, but also defend my territory better, he underlined. I defend my territory with my feet, my stick, but also my angles and my readings. »

√ Five-time winners of the Frozen Four (iconic NCAA tournament), the Terriers will play against Western Michigan on Thursday in Manchester in this first step towards the national championship. They will need to win their next two games to get their ticket to the Frozen Four which will take place in Tampa in early April.