By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
A week away from the opening of training camp, the Boston Bruins are still looking at external help on the free agent market.
And that search has led to interest in defenseman Ben Hutton, according to The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta.
A 6-foot-2, 206-pound left shot, Hutton totaled four goals and 16 points, and finished with a career-best plus-5 rating, in 65 games with the Los Angeles Kings during the 2019-20 season. And with the Kings were not invited to the Edmonton bubble, that made Hutton the fourth-highest scoring defender on the Kings roster, and one of just five L.A. regulars to finish with a plus rating (the Kings ranked 28th in goal differential last year, at minus-34).
One of 99 NHL defensemen to play at least 1,000 five-on-five minutes last year, Hutton ranked 42nd in points per 60 minutes (0.91) among that group, and 21st in shots per 60 minutes (6.17). That 0.91 points per 60 mark would’ve been second behind Charlie McAvoy’s defense-leading 1.25, and Hutton’s 6.17 shots per 60 would’ve been tops among all B’s defensemen last season (Brandon Carlo led all Boston defensemen with at least 1,000 minutes played, at 5.19 shots per 60).
Prior to his one-year run with the Kings, the 27-year-old Hutton spent four years with Vancouver, where he totaled a career-best 25 points as a rookie in 2015-16 and 11 goals and 70 points in 276 total games as a Canuck.
Now, it’s worth mentioning that the Bruins already have their fair share of left-shot defensemen healthy and set for next week’s training camp; Matt Grzelcyk, John Moore, Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril, and Urho Vaakanainen are all signed for next season. Right-shot defenseman Kevan Miller, re-signed to a one-year deal after missing all of last season, also has some experience playing the left side. The Bruins also continue to wait and see what decision 43-year-old defenseman and current free agent Zdeno Chara will make for the 2021 season. There’s also been talk of the Bruins surveying all their options before making their own call on Chara, the team’s captain since 2006, for next season.
Matt Keator, who represents Chara, talked about how just about everything was on the table for Big Zee in 2021.
So, at the very least, the B’s reported interest in Hutton feels like a mix of due diligence as a potential value signing and the Bruins looking to see what other backup options may be there if Chara’s on the outs.
The Bruins will open training camp on Jan. 3 and begin their 56-game 2021 campaign on Jan. 14.