No. 3: Perfecting the Development of Ben Hutton
Is Ben Hutton the best steal from the Vancouver Canucks’ Mike Gillis era? The fifth-round pick of the 2012 draft stayed under the radar until blowing everyone away to start the 2015-16 season. As the only defenceman on this list, the pressure is on both the Canucks and Hutton to make this work.
Hutton’s Keyword: Patience
I think Hutton’s story is too good to continue for long: a fifth-round pick making an impact this big in his rookie season? Don’t get too excited Hutton, and you too, Vancouver. Be patient lest he falters come April.
Depth Chart: Top-five Defender
He is not a top-four defender quite yet. But he is obviously not a top-six equal with Luca Sbisa. So what is he? A top-five defender. Then is Alex Biega in the top-four? Matt Bartkowski in the top-four? Oh, Lord. Don’t ask me.
What Vancouver Needs to Do
Extend Dan Hamhuis and play Hutton with Hamhuis. Dan Hamhuis is a veteran and the only defenceman on the Canucks blueline who is a verified top-four player. His veteran presence will calm Hutton’s D-zone work down, and allow the rookie’s offensive IQ work wonders. Plus, Hutton would be getting top-four minutes!
There is a case to be made, without mentioning Hutton’s name, that Hamhuis should stick with the Canucks. Simply put, why trade a 33-year-old coming off a major facial injury? Vancouver is going to have to take a discount because of his injury, no matter how well he plays in the coming month leading up to the trade deadline.
What Hutton Needs to Do
Keep being better than Matt Bartkowski and Yannick Weber. Hutton is having the best season out of all the Canucks rookies. Have a listen to Ben Kuzma there, from TSN1040. Essentially repeats my point on how this season is a win-win season for the Canucks.
The best thing Hutton can do this season is putting himself in the position for a promotion to the top-four next year. That means staying ahead of Bartkowski and Weber. Be mobile, be steady, be offensive, and be smiling.
Next: No. 4: Perfecting the Development of Jared McCann