The 2017-18 St. Louis Blues managed to hang their goaltenders out to dry far to often for them to be successful. In limited duty, Carter Hutton bailed out the team.
The St. Louis Blues need to be sending thank you cards and gift baskets to Carter Hutton, even though the season is over. Hutton managed to bail the team out of several bad situations in 2017-18.
The problem St. Louis faces now is that Hutton is a free agent and will likely price himself out of town. He has earned a look for more playing time, but he is not going to get it with the Blues. You can argue whether that’s right or wrong, but that is not what this article is for today.
As far as grading Hutton, his grade was difficult. I freely admit I am a fan of his counterpart and feel I am one of the only fans that realized that while Hutton is great, he is just a backup. To put it in baseball terms, you can have the best reliever in the world. You’re not going to try to make him your ace starter.
Regardless of all that, you cannot deny the quality Hutton gave when he was in there. Taking all bias out of it, he earned his grade.
Final Grade: A
As I said, I had planned to downgrade him based on games played or having a hiccup here or there. The more I looked at it, though, I realized that would only be personal bias. There is really no way to say he did not bring his A game.
Hutton did end up tops in the league in both goals against (2.09) and save percentage (.931). Now, before you get too excited about those numbers, just realize that Antti Raanta was number two in both those categories.
Raanta, like Hutton, did a fine job with a bad Arizona team. If you’re willing to hand him the reigns to your team, more power to you.
The impressive thing about Hutton was his calm demeanor. That is the area that he clearly has an advantage over Jake Allen right now.
Hutton had some bad games and got lit up a couple times. The valleys were not as deep with Hutton though. He managed to avoid those prolonged periods of unstable play.
Additionally, if you look beyond just the usual goalie numbers, Hutton was pretty impressive. He only had two really bad starts in 26 games, and yes that is a statistical category.
Out of 26 starts, 19 were classified as quality starts. That’s 73% of your games started that earn quality.
The one place that Hutton struggled a bit was on the penalty kill. His save percentage dropped to .910 when the opponent was on a power play. You go have to take into consideration the team struggles on special teams, but it is still worth mentioning.
Interestingly, he ended up allowing a decent amount of short handed goals. His save percentage while the Blues were up a man was .897. That is a direct correlation to the Blues bad power play though, since shorthanded shots are almost always breakaways.
As I said, this particular article is not here to debate the usual goaltending issue. Hutton earned his time and, if he had not gotten injured, he may have played more games than at any time in his career.
He had the occasional bad game, but the entire team did as well. Hutton was a calming influence and worthy of an A grade.
If this was his final season in St. Louis, I wish the best to him – as long as he does not play for a Central team. If he comes back for one more season, I will be happy with that as well – other than keeping the goalie controversy alive.