Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Will He Stay or Will He Go? Blues' Hutton Is Free Agent with Stellar Record

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Will He Stay or Will He Go? Blues' Hutton Is Free Agent with Stellar Record

Article excerpt

Carter Hutton has long since proved that he is a solid backup goalie, someone an NHL team can put in the net 20 to 30 times a year and not worry about what will happen.

This season, he took a big step toward proving he can be a No. 1 goalie as he was thrown into fairly regular duty by Jake Allen's midseason slump. In one stretch, he started 13 of 16 games for the Blues and went 10-2-1.

How much people around the league are convinced Hutton can be a No. 1 may determine whether or not he's back with the Blues next season.

"I think for me the last two or three years," Hutton said, "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."

The Blues would love to have him come back for an encore performance as Allen's partner -- with the numbers he put up, who wouldn't want him back? -- but if some team is going to give Hutton a No. 1 job and the corresponding salary, the Blues' offer will be lacking.

Hutton is an unrestricted free agent and is coming off a season where he led the league in both save percentage (.931) and goals-against average (2.09) -- "If they're going to keep track, it's obviously a good thing to be in first," he said -- which is a great example of really good timing. Less good timing is the way his season ended.

The Blues looked to have given the starter's job over to Hutton after some struggles by Allen. Hutton was about to make his third consecutive start, in a game at San Jose on March 8, when a herniated disc in his neck knocked him out of the lineup and kept him from playing for three weeks. In that time, Allen found his game and he got all but one start in the final 16 games of the season.

"It's never a good time to get hurt, but that's the way it goes," Hutton said. "I was sore in the morning (at San Jose) and then I made a save (in practice), a quick look up to my right, and that's when it went, all of a sudden. We were optimistic and I went to the hotel that day and when I got up, I couldn't even move.

"They thought it was little tears over time and then I just ruptured it. It was hitting into my spinal cord so then they just needed it to heal. Every day I would leave the rink, get treatment, come back, play the games or practice. It was a hectic schedule but now I've made a full recovery. I don't have issues. It's more, I think, a training thing moving forward. I'll just have to adjust some things the way I take care of myself, training in the gym and being cautious with it."

Hutton made $1.125 million last season (Allen made $4.35 million) and if a team is willing to make him its starter, he could be getting paid in the $3-4 million range. …

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