As the Los Angeles Kings’ offseason continues, so will my player profiles, where I review each player on the team and assess how they performed this season. This article will focus on Ben Hutton.
This season, Hutton played against tougher competition than every defenseman on the Kings not named Drew Doughty (according to Hockey Abstract) and still managed a very strong corsi for percentage of 55.8 per cent, the second-highest of any defenseman on the team. He also scored 16 points in 65 games, a pace of 20 points per 82 games and was a plus-five, the third-highest rating on the team. He looked poised to take on quite a bit more ice time after Alec Martinez was traded, averaging 19:43 per game after the trade compared to 18:02 per game this year prior to the deal.
Hutton is 27 years old, which is still young enough for him to have quite a few more seasons before there’s any fear of regression. Considering the Kings lack of depth on the left side, I think they should strongly consider bringing him back next season. With Hutton in the lineup, he’d be able to shelter Mikey Anderson and likely either Tobias Bjornfot or Kale Clague a little bit.
I doubt he’d command a big contract and I’d imagine the Kings could bring him back on a two-year deal for a fair price. Considering Los Angeles’ salary cap situation, they should even be able to pay a little bit more to keep him around in exchange for less term, so he could help to usher in younger defenders but his contract could expire just as the younger defensemen are ready to take over.
Considering the Kings are likely to need another left-handed defender heading into next season, to me at least, it makes sense to keep Hutton around. There won’t be pressure to be a playoff team and while bringing Hutton back certainly isn’t essential, it should at least be considered.
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Here’s today’s poll question (results and discussion will be posted in a future article):