The Vancouver Canucks won’t, but should hang onto Ben Hutton

As free agency looms, the Vancouver Canucks are rumoured to be ready to allow Ben Hutton to walk for nothing. Here’s why they shouldn’t.

First of all, you should never be okay with a defenceman of value walking away for nothing. My guess is, the Vancouver Canucks, a team who have hardly any assets that they’d be willing to trade, would know that. So why is it that the team looks prepared to walk away from Ben Hutton you may ask?

Sportsnet’s Rick Dhaliwal and Elliotte Friedman both reported that the Canucks are not planning on qualifying Hutton’s contract today, making him an unrestricted free agent. The Canucks are not expected to offer him a contract when he becomes a UFA, unlike last year, when they avoided arbitration with defenceman Derrick Pouliot by not extending him a qualifying offer but signed him after he became a free agent.

This won’t be the case, as the team looks prepared to cut ties with Hutton completely. Unless a trade is on the horizon, the Canucks will lose one of their few assets for absolutely nothing. To me, Hutton at $3-4 million is fair. He was solid for the team this year when he was tasked with playing first line minutes, and he is one of the Canucks only homegrown defencemen.

Hutton worked his way out of Canucks’ head coach Travis Green’s doghouse last season, and had a much better season last year than he did in 2017-18. He has committed himself to eating healthier and working out far more than he previously did. I still believe Hutton has untapped potential and that he is a good locker room guy, and because of this, I would like to see the team hang onto Hutton.

Either management believes strongly in Olli Juolevi, who has yet to play an NHL game, or they have something up their sleeve in the form of a trade or a free agent signing. Whatever it is, losing Hutton for nothing is something few Canucks fans will be happy about. Hutton’s value may be too high, but that’s because of how heavily he was relied on this last season.

The team isn’t willing to pay Hutton the likely 4+ million dollar contract an arbitrator would decide is suitable for him, and I get that. We don’t know what the team has planned, but right now, losing Hutton for nothing stings, and I would like to see the team bring back the reliable top-four defenceman from just a year ago.

To me, Hutton is at the very least a solid third pairing defenceman, and could potentially play with Troy Stecher to make an effective third pair, as the two were logging 30+ minutes together when Alex Edler and Chris Tanev were both injured last season. Letting him go for nothing definitely stings, but let’s hope management has a good plan in place to fill the hole. What do you think Canucks fans? Do you like this move? What’s a fair price for a new contract for Hutton? Let me know in the comments section below!