Sunday, September 25, 2005
Under the Radar: Andrew Hutchinson
- Sudie Back
Up until a few days ago, I had no idea who the hell Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Andrew Hutchinson was. Hell, I couldn't even spell his name correctly! When I did my pre-season preview on the Hurricanes, I never even mentioned him on the depth chart and nobody else pointed him out to me.
One big preseason game and an off-handed comment later, I have the feeling I might be dishing out a few cheese-dogs after the season is over.
Yep, defenseman Andrew Hutchison of the Carolina Hurricanes leads all scorers with 1 goal and 7 assists for 8 points. I bet a hot dog with cheese that he won't even get 8 points in the regular season.
Well, I got more than a few people willing to take on my bet, so I’m a little nervous now and had to find out what the hell I was supposedly missing. I see that Hutchinson had 8 points in only 18 games for the Predators in 2003-04. I better start cooking!
When my curiosity is piqued, I go do a little research. I love to learn about guys that fall way down below the mainstream radar. Let’s learn a bit more about this guy.
First, the basics...
Hutchinson had a pretty decent 4-year career at Michigan State University, where he put up 78 points in 160 games. After his freshman year, the Nashville Predators selected him in the 2nd round of the 1999 draft (54th overall) and he stayed the course in school before heading to the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL.
At the age of 23, Hutchinson had his breakout year with the Admirals and his first stint in the NHL. After posting 24 points in 46 games for the Admirals, he earned two brief call ups in January and March and potted 4 goals and 4 assists in 18 games, mostly on the Power Play. He then had a monster playoffs with 5 goals and 11 assists in 22 games as the Admirals advanced to the Calder Cup.
Now, I revert to McKeen’s and their scouting report (They project 4-10-14 in 61GP for Hutchinson this season):
Led all AHL defensemen in scoring with just six weeks left last season (58-10-31-41) before drying up down the stretch (18 0-4-4)..a stable, two-way rearguard with excellent straightline speed..plays an aggressive, heads-up game, actively jumping into the attack and sneaking down from his point..very adept at moving diagonally and opening up shooting lanes from the point for his hard, low shot..uses his long reach and good-sized frame effectively to defend..not always consistant as a passer, can be too hard at times or slightly off the mark..
The Hurricanes traded their 3rd round pick in the 2005 Entry Draft to Nashville for Hutchinson, which is a good idea given the Canes' draft poor record.
So, I see coach Peter Laviolette has been giving Hutch 20 minutes of ice time per game, but we know the preseason doesn’t always mean a whole lot. As I see it, the Carolina defense corps has Tverdovsky and Kaberle as the offensive defensemen, with Commodore, Hedican, Wallin, Ward, and maybe St. Jacques ahead of Hutchinson. Despite Hedican’s health problems, he is playing and is fairly reliable defensively if his speed is still good.
On the other hand, if the NHL continues to call a boatload of penalties (at least early in the season), it would be a good idea to keep Hutchinson dressed as a 7th defenseman and give him a spot on the top Power Play unit. It’s obvious the boy has a niche
From the Carolina Hurricanes website, Hutchinson Standing Out
Well, since my Bloggers Challenge fantasy team needed a spare defenseman, I let go of Niklas Hagman and picked up Hutchinson just in case he gets a spot on the roster come October 5th. It might be a good idea to pick him up in your leagues if you can get him for free.
"He's really poised with the puck and he makes the right passes," Laviolette said. "He really helps out on the power play and he sees the ice well and has a heck of a shot. He had one heck of a goal tonight. He's doing his best to try and make this club."
Laviolette had never seen Hutchinson play before he was traded here so he had no opinion of his play. He certainly does now.
"Maybe this is how he's always been," Laviolette said. "We knew he was an offensive-minded defenseman, but defensively he hasn't given up a thing. He's been pretty sound. He's been a nice surprise for us."
Slovak gourmet ;)
I take mine plain, BTW. ;D
* - If you haven't ever played The 7th Guest, do so if you can...GREAT computer game, despite the cheesy-ass acting.